Dip saved from axe a splash hit for Archie

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A BOXING Day dip saved from the axe at the last minute has made a big splash for good causes including a children’s hospital ward and an appeal to send a five-year-old to the US for pioneering surgery.

This year’s dip at Newbiggin, the 29th, had been cancelled after its organiser, Ashington Lions Club, was forced to close due to dwindling membership.

However, pub landlord Dennis Inglis stepped in to rescue the event just days before it was due to take place – and he is so pleased by how well it went that he is planning to do it all over again next year.

Dennis, landlord at the Old Ship pub, estimates that about 70 people took the plunge on the beach opposite the Bridge Street piazza and dozens more went along to watch.

They raised £900-plus for the children’s heart unit fund at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and at least another £2,000 for various other charities.

“It went extremely well,” said Dennis.

“We had a big turnout, which was really good as a lot of people didn’t know it was still being held.

“It will definitely happen again next year.”

Equally delighted by the turnout on the day was cerebral palsy sufferer Archie Anderson.

The five-year-old was there to see eight fundraisers from his home town of Ashington brave the chilliness of the North Sea to raise more than £800 for an appeal to raise the £50,000 he needs to undergo surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.

His mum Marie and dad Allan hope the operation, called a selective dorsal rhizotomy, will enable him to walk unaided further than the relatively short distances he is able to manage at the moment.

Thanks to the Newbiggin dip, the appeal for Archie now stands just short of £16,000 only six weeks after being launched, with the proceeds of a couple of recent fundraising events yet to be totted up and taken into account.

Marie, 40, a manager at the Cobalt Business Park Jobcentre Plus office in North Shields, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. It’s really appreciated.

“Archie had a great day out. Quite a lot of people recognised him from the front page of the News Post Leader a couple of weeks ago and came over to say ‘hello’.

“It’s been absolutely amazing how well we’ve done, especially as we launched the appeal in the run-up to Christmas, when you might not have expected people to have much money to spare.”

Archie’s appeal is set to be boosted further by another North Sea dip, at Whitley Bay on New Year’s Day.

Among the ten fundraisers taking part on his behalf will be his mum’s new partner, Cameron Bushell, 45, a customer service adviser for energy firm Npower in Houghton-le-Spring, and he is planning to wear a kilt for the occasion in honour of his Scottish roots.

If all goes according to plan, Archie, a pupil at St Aidan’s First School in Ashington, is hoping to have his operation in July next year.

For details of how to donate, go to www.archiesdream.co.uk