A waddle of penguins have braved a nippy dip in the North Sea to raise funds for a children’s cancer charity.
Around 20 youngsters and adults donned penguin costumes and wetsuits to head into the water at Stonehaven Harbour on Monday morning.
They were not just clearing away the Christmas cobwebs, but raising funds for Cancer and Leukaemia in Children Orientated (Calico).
The north-east charity supports families in the Grampian region who have children suffering from cancer, leukaemia or cancer related illness.
Braving the cold
It was a misty morning in the Aberdeenshire town with a temperature of around 4C – described by The Outdoor Swimming Society as “Baltic”.
A crowd of people – and dogs – gathered at the harbour for moral support chanting a countdown as the penguins shuffled towards the water.
There were a few screams when the cold hit but everyone was in high spirits waving to the spectators, while enjoying a leisurely swim or dunking under the water.
The group waddled back out to the sound of applause and got stuck into the tea, coffee and biscuits.
Raising funds for Calico
A JustGiving page has been set up to raise funds for the charity and a prize will be given to the penguin that manages to raise the most money.
Karen Arnold, from Calico, shared that the funds will help the charity continue to support local families with sick children.
“We deal with all the children go through Royal Aberdeen’s Children Hospital (RACH), sometimes they don’t necessarily get treated here, but the initial diagnosis will be done through Aberdeen.
“We give out grants to support families as the additional costs after diagnosis are too much for some people, it could help cover additional heating costs at home with a sick child or travelling expenses to the hospital. As we’re small, we can act quite quickly.”
Penguins take the plunge
The Calico representative also explained how the idea of holding a penguin plunge came about.
“When lockdown first started, David Ross, who’s actually a financial adviser, started doing a little skit from his garden shed about once a week and started getting lots of followers,” she said.
“He’d normally dress up and be in character and one of those characters was a penguin. He was doing this skit and the neighbours saw it, so the next day they all walked past in penguin suits.
“We were going to the penguin plunge last year, but then the Covid restrictions came in and everyone was a bit wary about what to do. Instead, we did a charity calendar with all the different outfits.
“This year, the the Sunrise Swimmers has formed and the whole thing has gained momentum. Hopefully we can make it an even bigger event next year. We’ve got a few ideas already.”
David Ross and the Sunrise Swimmers started taking part in a weekly swim at Stonehaven Harbour back in April.
Many members of the group turned up on Monday ready to embrace the cold conditions and penguin attire to benefit the charity.
Mr Ross said it went great and that they are hopeful the event can grow each year.
End of treatment gift
Money raised for Calico also allows them to develop other projects, including an end of treatment gift to acknowledge patient’s cancer journeys.
Calico has been in discussion with the oncology staff at RACH about developing a gift for some time and after a donation of £5,000 from Kevin Watt, the managing director of Kinetics Controls & Innovations, they have been able to put the plan into action.
The charity has teamed up with Peterculter-based business Lava Jewellery, owned by Duncan and Jacqui Grant, to create a keyring for children to receive when they finish treatment.
Karen added: “Previously the children would get high street gifts so we wanted to create something more personal. . We got to know Duncan through the penguins and it’s developed from there.
“We’re a local charity and were quite keen to use a local company, it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Donations to Calico can be made via the Just Giving page.