CARTOON characters, Olympic torch bearers and superheroes were among hundreds of keen fundraisers to brave the sea at the annual Boxing Day Dip.
Organisers say around 300 men, women and children took the plunge at Seaton Carew with thousands of onlookers wishing them well from the promenade.
Upwards of £20,000 is expected to have been raised for a series of local, regional and national charities.
Seaton was awash with fundraisers wearing fancy dress including Batman, Fred Flintstone, ghostbusters, surfers, fairy godmothers and even one group wearing Rubik’s cubes.
Among the dippers was Ian Richardson, 39, who tragically lost his wife Joanne, 40, and eldest daughter Mya, aged six, in a car accident in August 2010.
Ian and two-year-old daughter Ava survived the accident and he has since thrown himself into fundraising for the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund to help children who have lost loved ones.
This year he was chosen as an Olympic Torchbearer and took his flame along to the dip, where he was joined by fellow torch bearers Lisa Askew, 37 and 43-year-old Brian Baines.
Ian, from Billingham, said: “It is a real mix of emotions for me at this time of year but this gives me something to focus on and I have to be strong for Ava.”
Sports clubs also took part including a 20-strong group from Seaton Carew Rugby Club.
Club member Steve Brookes, 45, of Seaton Carew, said: “We have been raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care for the last 11 years and we are hoping to raise around £1,000 this year.”
Hartlepool Round Table has taken over the running of the event from the Hartlepool Lions Club, which had run it for the past 40 years.
At 11.30am the parade, led by chairman of the council, Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, made its way down to the beach and into the sea.
Coun Akers-Belcher, who entered the water in his trousers and shirt, took part to help raise funds for the seven town charities he is supporting including The Rifty Youth Project and NYPD (Nurturing Young People’s Development).
He said: “This is a great event and a great opportunity to raise funds.”
Allan Wise, current chairman of Hartlepool Round Table, said: “This is a great event in Hartlepool and it is really important that it continues. Once again people have really got into the spirit.”
He thanked main sponsors Huntsman Tioxide and also the Staincliffe Hotel for hosting the registration, the RNLI, Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council, Hartlepool Mail, Radio Hartlepool, First Class Shoe Repair and Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
Mr Wise added: “I would also like to thank Hartlepool Lions who ran this event for 40 years for their help and support.”