After the gale force winds generated by Storm Frank, the intrepid swimmers taking part in the annual Carnlough harbour dip were thankful to see much calmer conditions.
And, as 12 noon struck Geoff Bell (on his 44th swim!) aided by long term ‘dippers’ Bert Kernohan, Mark Smith, Darren Donnell and Angela McClements ushered a total of 85 hardy souls into the freezing sea to raise funds for the Ballymena Branch of the Spina Bifida Association.
As usual, hundreds of spectators were in attendance to watch the swimmers and there keeping a watchful eye on everyone were members of the Larne Branch of the Saint John’s Ambulance.
After the ‘normal’ madness and mayhem everyone made their way to the Bridge Inn foro the social festivities which make the event a ‘must do’ on many calenders..
Chairman of the Association Billy McIlroy said it was very pleasing to see so many swimmers and in particular young newcomers on the 44th year of the event.
Mementoes and certificates were then presented by Mrs. Joan Linton and daughter Ray to the swimmers who had taken part.
After the presentations the chairman again paid tribute to the people who sponsored the swimmers this year as they have done for many years in the past.
Last year the swim raised the magnificent sum of £4360 and this year got off to a brilliant start with £2535 lifted on the day thanks to the generous sponsorship from the general public.
The social festivities which went down a treat then got off to a good start with Bert Kernohan carrying out the duties of Compere and the Music being supplied by Aidan Canning.
Bert organised the Irish dancing that saw quite a number of ladies strutting the stuff before the Choir Singing challenge.
The ladies were out to win for a third time in a row and put the men on first. It has to be said the men put up a wonderful performance and received a rapturous applause.
The ladiesfollowed but had a bit of a bad start getting off on the wrong key. They then re-started to sing very well and they claimed they had won the day which was hotly disputed by the men. The Chairman was asked to judge on the matter and he gave it narrowly to the Ladies. The men have appealed this decision which will be heard and judgement given by the appeal committee on Next New Years Day
After a few hours of entertainment and as the evening drew to a close Billy paid very special thanks to the following people:
Gerry Burns and Staff of the Bridge Inn for their courteous service and use of the facilities; Aidan Canning who provided the music for the singing and Dancing;
James Henry and Staff Broughshane Street Ballymena who provided the transport and chaperoned the Swimmers from the Seven Towers Leisure Centre. Ballymena;
Larne branch of the Saint John’s Ambulance for their attendance at the swim;
Robert McHenry and the Carnlough Rowing Club for the use of the Boathouse; Paul McWilliams Proprietor of Presentations of Ballymena who supplied the Swimmers Mementoes; Caprice and Sabrina Donnell for the Harbour Collection which raised £289.00; Sabrina and Darren Donnell who organised the raffle, and to Mrs. Joan Linton and Friends who donated prizes which raised £244.00
Next year will be the 45th Anniversary of the event which was started off by the late John McNeil, Bill Bell, Danny Wylie and Aidan Metrusty.
This year’s swimmers were:-
Dave Mooney , Rachelle Mooney , Pauline Steele , Julie Morrow , Katie Morrow, Trevor Ashcroft, Kieran McMullan , Patrick O’Reilly , Darren Donnell, Curtis Donnell, Kieran McAuley, Ennis Clarke, Martin Hill, Archie McKinley, Campbell Clark, Derek Parkhill, Blaze Lambert, Jill Lambert, Natasha Blair, Gemma Taggart, Stuart Smith, Montel Gilmore, Colin Bell, Arthur Chatfield, Mark Smith, Laura Bruce, Michael Surgenor, Debbie Surgenor, Zara Surgenor, Dessie Aughey
Francis Gault, Beth Doherty, Sarah Doherty, Alan Trainor, Barney Rea, Monique O’Boyle, Catherine O’Boyle, Robert Bowman,Curtis McAuley, Matthew Bowman,Kate Hasson, Anna Hasson, Nicola Black, Rachel McKinley, Alistair Neeson, Neill Kerr, Paul Carey, Megan McClements, Jamie Moss, Craig Moss, Jodie Hannah, Bert Kernohan, Andrew Moss, Josh McCrory, Geoff Bell, Angela McClements, Glenn McCullough, Simon Murphy, Shaun Hasson, Colm Hasson,Niamh McKinley, Rachel McKinley, Laura Marshall, Martin McAleese, Shiela McAleese, Adam Gillen, P.J. McAleese, Blaithin O’Kane, Jonny McMaster, Eoin McGuigan, Cahir Cassidy, Ruairi Mallon, Andrew Kernohan, Ryan McFadden, Gregory O’Kane, Claudia O’Kane, Richard Gault, Anthony O’Rawe, Paul O’Rawe, Dana Kernohan, Eddie Gilmore, Stuart Gilmore, Scott Gilmore, Nicole McCullough, Hugo Carlin