A MASS skinny dip which saw more than 200 bathers plunge naked into the sea at a North East beauty spot could become an annual event, its organiser said yesterday.
Participants peeled off their clothes and wallowed in the waves together as the sun rose over Druridge Bay in Northumberland on Saturday, in the inaugural North East Skinny Dip.
The event, held to coincide with the autumn equinox, is thought to have raised about £2,000 for mental health charity Mind.
An estimated 200 people got naked and jumped into the sea after gathering on the beach at 6am – not enough to set a new world record but sufficient to delight paramedic and wild swimming enthusiast, Jacqueline Higginson, who organised the dip with her partner Mark Bushell.
They were given permission to use land owned by the National Trust for the event, which Jacqueline decided to bring to the North East after she took part in a mass skinny dip at Rhossili beach in Wales last summer, which saw 413 people go into the sea together.
That event set a new world record for the most naked people in the sea together at one time, as well as raising more than £25,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the National Trust.
Yesterday Jacqueline, 34, from Whitburn, South Tyneside, said: “Druridge Bay was just as good, if not better, than the beach in Wales.
“It created the same kind of feelings for me and appeared to for everyone else as well. It was a unique event to be part of and Saturday went better than I could have expected.
“Lots of people turned up and really went with it. The weather was perfect and the sunrise wonderful.
“People have been inundating me with messages of gratitude, and saying it made them feel inspired and motivated. I believe we will raise about £2,000 for Mind, but so many people have not even contacted me yet so it could be more.
“I am already starting to plan for next year. I spoke to Simon Lee from the National Trust, who was very pleased with the event and the outcome, and said he would love to host a skinny dip at Druridge as an annual event.
“He is keen for it to happen again and it is great to have him on our side.
“We chose Mind because I feel very close to the issues around mental health, both personally and as a paramedic, as I see it all around me.”
People travelled from all over the country to join in and celebrate their bodies on Saturday.
Nelson Peel, 45, a plumber from Leeds, said he had been more nervous of taking his clothes off than braving the cold waters.
He added: “My partner had to persuade me to take part, but I am very glad I did it now.
“The water was pretty cold, but it was an exhilarating experience.
“I was nervous about stripping off, but everybody else was doing the same, and as we entered the water there was a loud cheer.
“A few large waves broke while we were in the water and the shrieks got louder.
“I knew from the start I was going to completely submerge myself in the water. I’d definitely do it again.”