Hundreds turn out to take part in annual South Shields Boxing Day dip tradition

South Shields seafront was packed with brave Boxing Day dippers as the annual fundraiser for charities got underway.

Hundreds of people, dressed in a variety of costumes, ran into the sea in memory of loved ones - or just to raise cash for charity.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

This year, both the annual Cancer Connections and St Clare’s Hospice dips took place on Little Haven Beach.

At 11am youngsters braving the waves and icy waters to raise funds for Cancer Connections ran into the sea led by Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall - a patron of the charity.

This year the 25-year-old - who was also celebrating her birthday - was taking part in memory of her auntie Norma, who died last year.

Jade said: “It’s cold but it’s not as bad as last year. I have time off over Christmas and it’s something we do every year to raise money and awareness for Cancer Connections, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on this day. I’m doing it this year in honour of my auntie Norma who passed away last year, so it means a lot to all of us this year.”

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on this day.

Jade Thirlwall

The adults were counted down by Paralympian swimming record-holder Josef Craig. Among the crowd of dippers was also South Tyneside singer Joe McElderry who is currently taking the lead in Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat in Newcastle.

It is the first time Joe has taken part in the dip.

He said: “I’ve been in the sea loads as a kid throughout the year, but I’ve never done the Boxing Day. It’s exciting. I know Deborah Roberts, the charity’s co-founder and I’m home this year, so I didn’t really have any excuse not to do it.”

Jenny McConkey, who was dressed as a Mermaid said: “It was a crazy last minute idea to do the dip for Cancer Connections.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

“We have a friend, Andrew Oliver, who has just been diagnosed with cancer and we wanted to do it for him and to raise awareness.”

Further down the beach, St Clare’s Hospice also held it’s Boxing Day dip.

Wendy McGauley, head of fundraising and communications for St Clare’s Hospice, said: “We’ve had a really good turnout with 100 people registered. I’m really impressed, the Boxing Day dip is an annual tradition for St Clare’s which helps to raise much needed funds for the charity to help us to provide support and care to people and their families with life limiting illnesses in South Tyneside.”

Mother and daughter Margaret and Jessica McElwee were taking part in the St Clare’s Hospice dip in memory of her mother-in-law Florrie.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

It is the ninth year Margaret has taken part in the event while for Jessica it was the sixth time taking part.

Margaret said: “I done my first one after we lost some family members. Because we couldn’t buy them a Christmas present, we thought we would do this as a way of giving a gift to St Clare’s Hospice in their memory.

“It is such a brilliant atmosphere, everyone is watching and cheering you on, but it’s freezing.”

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall take part in Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall take part in Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall and Joe McElderry take part in Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach with Josef Craig

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall and Joe McElderry take part in Cancer Connections Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach with Josef Craig

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.

St Clare's Hospice Boxing Day dip at Littlehaven Beach.