HUNDREDS of intrepid volunteers are being sought to strip naked and plunge into the North Sea in a mass “skinny dip” at a leading North East coastal beauty spot later this year.
The National Trust has given permission for a section of beach which it owns at Druridge Bay in Northumberland to be used for the charity fundraising event, in which participants are being invited to “get naked and celebrate our bodies”.
The North East Skinny Dip hopes to attract hundreds of people to shed their clothes and plunge into the waves at 6am on September 22, the day of the autumn equinox.
Organisers Jacqueline Higginson, 34, and her partner Mark Bushell, 33, of Whitburn, South Tyneside, will use it to raise funds for Mind, the national mental health charity.
Last summer a similar event was held on National Trust land at Rhossili beach at Gower, Wales, when more than 400 bathers plunged naked into the sea and raised more than £25,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the National Trust. It also set a new Guinness World Record for the most naked people in the sea for at least 10 minutes.
Ms Higginson, a paramedic and wild swimming enthusiast, took part in the Wales dip and decided to organise a similar event in the North East.
She and Mr Bushell were given the go ahead this week for an event which the National Trust says will be properly organised and stewarded.
In postings on Facebook promoting the dip and urging people to take part, Ms Higginson says after several months of meetings, the Trust has agreed to make its land available for dippers to “get naked and celebrate our bodies.”
It will take place near sunrise and on the official transition day from summer to winter. “I cannot think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the summer and welcome the winter than stripping down to skin and running wild and free into the North Sea,” she adds.
Last night Mr Bushell, who works on Tyneside, said: “At present we have about 160 people who have said they’ll take part, but we expect that to grow over the next two months. We don’t have an eye on setting a new world skinny dipping record at the moment, but we’ll see how it goes.
“We have spoken to Mind and they are over the moon that we are doing it for them. It is something a bit different in terms of fundraising.
Last night Scott Dickinson, chairman of East Chevington Parish Council, which includes Druridge Bay, said: “Anything that supports a charity like Mind is great and any new twist on fundraising is good. I’m sure this will bring our area a lot of publicity and promotion, which is a good thing.”
Sadie Parker, the National Trust’s regional PR and communications consultant, said: “We are happy to host this charity fundraising event on the Trust-owned stretch of beach. As well as raising money for charity, we hope the event will raise awareness of the beautiful coastline.”