IT was a near perfect afternoon for the Big Sea Dip as the sun beamed down on 54 brave hearts who shed their coats to stride into the water.

The first open water event for Colchester Hospital’s Cancer Centre campaign was a hit, raising nearly £5,000 for the multi-million pound health facility.

The eldest person to jump in was 73 while the youngest was ten, taking part with friends and family.

Caroline Bates, head of charity and fundraising at Colchester Hospitals Charity, said: “It was brilliant and such fun. With the weather being so great there was a really good atmosphere and a great crowd of people came out to watch.

“Around double the amount of people went into the water this year.

“The Big Sea Dip started unofficially with Rachel Fletcher and a group of her friends.

“It went so well, raising over £5,000, that we wanted to offer it to a bigger group of charity supporters.

“Quite a few people this year were actually celebrating coming into their 50th year, seven to be exact, but others were turning 40 and 60.

“There must be something about a milestone birthday which makes people want to do an exciting endeavour.”

The next Colchester Hospitals Charity event is the Secret Art Show in March, giving buyers access to anonymous pieces, some done by celebrities, for £40.

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