The annual Ventnor Boxing Day swim will go ahead this year, after it was announced earlier in the week that the wonderful local charity, People’s Approach To Cancer Help (PATCH), had stepped back from organising the event.
The event was first created back in 1980 by Hugo Kullander (pictured on the right below), initially raising money for St Catherine’s School. It fast became a Boxing Day tradition and now in its 37th year, regularly attracts thousands of people to Ventnor’s seafront each Boxing Day.
Taking up the gauntlet
On hearing that PATCH had stepped down as organisers, Ventnorian Maria Sexton, decided to take up the gauntlet to keep the tradition going.
She explained to OnTheWight that that Ventnor Coastguard are on board and that The Millbay, as well as herself, would be point of contact on the day for any problems or safety issues.
Various collection points will be set up around Ventnor prior to the event and anyone wishing to help collect donations can hand buckets into the Millbay.
A new Ventnor Boxing Day Swim Facebook event has been set up where updates will be posted and those wishing to help can share their details.
Make a donation now
A Crowdfunding Page has also been created to start to raise as much money as possible for PATCH.
If you’re not going to be around on the day to watch the swim and donate via buckets, you can donate online in advance.
PATCH made contributions to the Coastguard and Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat, who sit in the bay on standby. Womble Wendy generously cleans the beach beforehand.
Difficult decision for PATCH trustees
Erika Arnold, one of the three Trustees from PATCH who have organised the event for many years, got in touch last week to explain the situation.
The decision to step back from organising the event, which takes around three months from start to finish, was mainly through a lack of support.
Erika explained that in 2005, the event had 30 swimmers with 21 of them handing in their sponsorship, whereas eleven years later it has expanded to 300 plus swimmers, with only 11 people handing their sponsorship in.
Begging for volunteers for years
As well as the problem of putting all the effort into organising the event and then having swimmers raise money for other charities, Erika told OnTheWight,
“We have been begging for volunteers year on year and the same loyal helpers come down, I think there were eight last year.
“So all in all we have all decided to claim our Christmas back.”
Thanks to PATCH
Erika, Ros, Den (pictured above), as well as the loyal volunteers, are to be congratulated on the incredible hard work they’ve put in year after year to organise the event.
PATCH is a vitally important charity that helps Ventnor residents and their families affected by Cancer. It’s great that they’re able to put their feet up this Christmas and let someone else take the pressure.
Well done to those taking on this year’s organisation. It’s great to see Ventnor’s community spirit coming to the fore once again.
Image: © Chad Powell