Help is needed to secure the long-term future of Sunderland’s famous Boxing Day Dip.
Sunderland Lions Club has organised the annual fund-raising event for more than four decades, but needs new blood if it is to remain a fixture of the Wearside calendar.
More than 750 people braved the bitterly cold North Sea at Seaburn this year, while hundreds more lined the beach and promenade to watch them take part in the 41st dip.
And almost £50,000 has been pledged for a host of charities and other good causes across the North East by those taking part.
But the long-term future of the ever-popular event could be in jeopardy if new volunteers don’t come forward to offer their services.
“The dip is not under any immediate threat – but new members are essential to secure its long-term future,” said Lions spokeswoman Anne Fielding.
“The dip has got to continue, but if it is going to continue to be as successful and as popular as it is, then we need more members to help.”
The Lions take a cut of the money raised from each year’s dip which is used to fund the group’s own causes, such as the annual Christmas Wish campaign, and distributed across Sunderland. “It can be hard work, but we have a good social life and you always know you are going to be sharing out a lot of money with some very good causes,” said Anne.
“It is a nice feeling, knowing that you are enjoying yourself while you are doing some good work.”
The Lions are always able to find volunteers to help with stewarding and collecting money on the day of the dip itself, but it is the long-term organisation of the event that requires a commitment.
“We call in family and friends, and we are very grateful to the Leo Club members from Sunderland High School, who have also come down to help us this year,” said Anne.
“But we really need more help. The planning starts in August and carries on right through to the presentation evening in the New Year.”