A FAMILY will be braving the chilly Irish Sea not just once but five times on New Year’s Day.
Gemma Watterson, her sister Lianne and brother Aaron as well as five members from aunt Lyz Howard’s side of the family are taking part in five dips to raise money for The Friends of Robert Owen House and Noble’s Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation unit.
Both of the facilities helped Gemma’s dad Chris, a farmer from Patrick, after he fell ill earlier this year.
Gemma, aged 27, of Glen Maye, said: ‘Dad was one of the original Peel dippers in 1983 and has done it every year since – as a family we have all taken part over the years, even my daughters Kiara, aged 10, and Aalish, aged eight, do it every year.
‘It seemed fitting to raise money by doing the dips although when we told dad what we were doing he said he thought we were mad.
‘He will be doing the Peel Dip but reckons one is enough!’
She explained: ‘My dad had always been fit and healthy but last year he kept getting really bad pains in his chest for no apparent reason.
‘In June the cardiac unit scanned him and ran a few tests which showed he had a massive aortic aneurysm.
‘He was so lucky as a lot of people with aneurysms don’t know until it’s too late.
‘Within two months he was taken to Broadgreen [in Liverpool] for open heart surgery. Luckily he is well on the way to making a full recovery and getting his life back to normal.’
On January 1, they will be taking part in the Peel Dip at midday, followed by the dips at Port St Mary’s Chapel Beach and inner harbour, and Gansey before finishing with a second dip at Peel.
Gemma said: ‘The support we received from Geoff Smith, senior cardiac rehabilitation nurse at Noble’s was second to none. He was forever on hand if we needed to ask questions and kept in touch daily throughout dad’s surgery.
‘Dad also recently attended the cardiac rehab course which helped him massively.
‘Whilst we were away with dad we stayed at The Robert Owen House, which is fantastic. It is on site at Broadgreen and the staff are so friendly.’
Anyone who would like to sponsor the brave dippers should send donations to 21 Creggan Aashen, Glen Maye Park, Glen Maye, IM5 3DA.
The New Year’s Day dips take place at the following times:
• Friends of Auldyn’s Ramsey dip. Register at 1.30pm at Queen’s Promenade lifeboat station for 2pm start.
• Southern dips: Chapel Beach, Port St Mary, 12.45pm; Inner harbour, Port St Mary, 1.30pm; Gansey Beach, 2.15pm; Port Erin beach, 3pm.
• Castletown Ale Drinkers’ Castletown dip from the harbour, 3.30pm.
• Peel dip, register at 11am for a midday start.
• Breakthrough Breast Cancer dip, Queen’s Promenade Douglas, midday.
• Deemster’s New Year Dip, Laxey beach, midday.