New Year's Day events: Whitley Bay dip and Ponteland wheelbarrow race among the highlights

Bananas, giraffes and even Superman were among the hundreds making the mad seafront dash to start the New Year

New Years Day dip at the Panama Swimming Club Whitley Bay
New Years Day dip at the Panama Swimming Club Whitley Bay

Bananas, giraffes and even Superman were among the hundreds making the mad seafront dash to start the New Year.

Joining the throng of dippers lining up on a blustery Whitley Bay beach were spectators who packed along the promenade, all opting to cling on to their coats, scarves and woolly hats.

One of those making the run for the first time was Fiona Graham-Landells, from Killingworth, North Tyneside, raising money for the First Burradon Rainbows.

She said: “It was really good. Freezing, invigorating but worthwhile. I’d definitely do it again.”

As 11am neared, the crowds surged forward cheering as they raced towards the sea. Emerging back onto the beach was Alan Keegan, 42, a teacher at Whitley Bay High School. He said: “This was my first time taking part and it just seemed like a fantastic thing to do, to get up and out on New Year’s Day. I was surprised by how many people had turned out to take part and watch.”

Christopher Heighway, 35, from Consett, County Durham, convinced his friends the dip was an experience worth having.

 

He said: “Last year was my first time. I ran in to my knees and feel straight over but I’ve managed to convince my friends it’s a good thing to do.”

Elsewhere, the New Year was seen in in traditional style in Ponteland where wheelbarrow race experts Oscar Redman and Dan Pybus won for the event the third year.

The teenagers powered home in first place ahead of their fathers, Alan Redman and Andrew Pybus. Oscar, of Ponteland, said: “The event is something we enjoy doing and it has become a family tradition – our dads have done it for many years.”

Mother-of-three Jo Shalcross took part in the event for the first time, pushing her nephew, Jack Burns, 12, around the course.

The circular route is just under a mile long and is uphill for part of the way.

Ironman athlete Jo, who runs the Barn fitness classes near Ponteland, said: “I enjoyed the race and it is a fun way to start the New Year. I’ve never done the event before, but it was difficult in some places.”

Hundreds of spectators enjoyed the wheelbarrow tradition, thought to date back to the early 14th century.

Meanwhile, morris dancers performed outside the Ship Inn in Monkseaton, Whitley Bay.

The Monkseaton Morris Men have been performing every New Year since 1972.

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