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Popular christmas swim could sink

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:38 05 July 2010

A FESTIVE Southwold tradition may not go ahead this year because busy organisers do not have time to deal with increasing demands from health and safety rules.

A FESTIVE Southwold tradition may not go ahead this year because busy organisers do not have time to deal with increasing demands from health and safety rules.

This would have been the fifth year of the town's Christmas swim, which has raised thousands for charity. Last year saw 130 people taking part, watched by a further 750 and raising £8,050. In total more than £17,000 has been raised for Beach Radio's Help an East Coast Child appeal.

The event had spiralled from the first swim in 2003, which was dreamed up just a week before Christmas by seven local businessmen meeting at the Crown Hotel. That year 29 people took part, and it has grown ever since, attracting people from as far as Norwich and Ipswich.

But organisers are finding it increasingly difficult to meet all the health and safety rules, in particular the need to find more marshals for the event.

Now Dudley and Marion Clarke and Derek and Teresa Baggott have decided the time has come to have a relaxed Christmas. The Baggotts, who run the Red Lion in Southwold, have found it difficult to find the time to organise the swim during a busy time for the pub, and this year Mrs Baggott has extra duties as town mayor. The four have tried to find other people to help organise the event without success, although they hope that someone may still come forward.

Mr Clarke said: “It is just one of those things that grew. We never expected it to. We have not taken the decision lightly. It is very sad.

“There is a lot of work involved. I have to write a risk assessment. We have to send in all the forms, and that has to go to a committee of Waveney District Council and they decide whether it can go ahead or not.

“Marshalling is a big problem.”

But he said all the authorities had been helpful, including the NFU which provided £5m insurance for the event for a reasonable £170.

Anyone wanting to organise the swim can contact Mr Clarke on 01986 873065 or Mr Baggott at the Red Lion in Southwold.

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