HUNDREDS of festive fundraisers blew away the Christmas cobwebs by taking a dip in the freezing North Sea.
Thousands of spectators lined Seaton Carew seafront for the traditional Boxing Day Dip organised for the third year by Hartlepool Round Table.
Around 350 dippers are expected to raise thousands of pounds for good causes as they dunked themselves in the bracing North Sea.
Many wore outrageous and colourful fancy dress such as fellas in drag, Thunderbirds and Willy Wonka.
Among them was the Edwards family who were all dressed in red and white stripes as book character Where’s Wally in aid of West Hartlepool Rugby Club’s under 12s.
Lisa Edwards said: “This is about the seventh or eighth time we have done it.
“We love it, it is just a fantastic day. It is part of our Christmas tradition now.”
Also standing out from the crowds was Tegan Lancaster as Wily Wonka and relations Janet and Sue Seaman and Lyn Gatley.
Lyn, from Billingham, said: “We are doing it for my grandson Cole Lancaster who has cerebral palsy to buy him a specially adapted trike and have raised £500.
“We have all done it before. It is exciting and freezing but it is worth it.”
A team of lads from Seaton Carew Rugby Club also raced into the sea in their kit.
They were raising money for Marie Curie cancer nurses who one of the team’s wife works for.
Club president Kenny Braham said: “We love it. It sobers you up and is a good social event.”
The dippers paraded to the beach from the Staincliffe Hotel, who once again provided the venue for free for use as the dip HQ.
They faced a longer dash to the surf this year as the tide was out.
But family and friends were on standby afterwards to offer them towels and a hug.
Hartlepool Round Table chairman Martin Scarborough, who took part, said: “It wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be.
“I went in nice and calmly and someone pushed me from behind and I went straight flat on my face but that’s probably the best way to do it!
“There has been loads of people raising money for charity and everyone had a great day.”
The Round Table raised £1,200 from registration fees and bucket collections.
Vice president Allan Wise also thanked event sponsors Metcalfe Roofing and Building Services.
Dozens of hardy souls also took part in a dip on the Fish Sands at Hartlepool’s Headland.
They wore fancy dress including Batman and Cat Woman, dogs and old-fashioned bathers while some wore very little at all.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel provided a base for dippers to get changed and served up warming refreshments afterwards.