A GRIEVING mother who has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity over the past decade is preparing for her final Boxing Day Dip.
Julie Reay and her dedicated team of dippers have become a familiar sight at the annual Dip in Seaburn, but this year will be the last time the team take the plunge.
Barnes mum Julie, who started her mammoth fund-raising drive in memory of her son Peter Lane, says it’s right the team should go out on a high.
In the 12 years since Peter, 13, died in a tragic ropeswing accident, Julie has channelled her grief by raising more than £150,000 for North East charities.
A cornerstone of her fund-raising has been the Boxing Day Dip, when she races into the chilly North Sea with her Footprints in the Sand team.
“It was Peter’s friend that first suggested we do it all those years ago,” said Julie, 50. “It started off as a little team, but the support we had was huge and from then it’s just grown and grown.
“People look out for us now and we are proud to be called Footprints in the Sand because we are Peter’s footprints. It’s his day.”
Julie is passionate about keeping the money she raises in her home region and the charities she has helped over the years include St Benedict’s Hospice, Wearside Women in Need, North East Air Ambulance, PDSA, Brothers in Arms, Sunderland RNLI, Variety Club sunshine coaches, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in Newcastle, and more.
For the past nine years, the team has won the Sunderland Lions Club Cup for the most money raised at the dip, and they’re hoping to do that again this year.
“With this being our tenth year it seems to be the right time to go out on a high,” said Julie, who is mum to Vicky, 31. “It would be an amazing achievement to win the cup 10 years in a row. I am so very proud of all our dippers and our amazing sponsors who make this possible.
“We still struggle without Peter, particularly at Christmas, but the dip always gives us something to focus on.”
A team of more than 50 dippers will join Julie this year to raise funds for CRUK, Sunderland RNLI lifeboats, Kian’s Gift and 4Louis.
As always, they’ll be wearing T-shirts supplied by Total Sports in Silksworth Row, who have supported Julie since the beginning.
Keith Reiling, who owns the store with Darren Grant, said: “It’s amazing how something so good and amazing can come from something so terrible. I have children and there’s no way I could do what Julie has done. No parent could put themselves in her position.
“And it’s not just the Boxing Day Dip, she does so much throughout the year too. She’s so passionate about raising money for her hometown and as a local business we are proud to support that.”
Though Julie is hanging up her dipping T-shirt, her other fund-raising efforts with the Peter David Lane Trust Fund will continue.