THE enduring appeal of throwing yourself off a bridge into the chilly waters of the River Arun 20ft below seems as strong as ever, judging from Sunday’s Littlehampton Leap (February 8).
Frankenstein, a trio of cheerleaders and the Devil were among the gaggle of hardy jumpers who gathered on the footbridge in Littlehampton harbour for the 32nd staging of the charity plunge.
They also included the youngest leaper, Alex Hall, 11, a member of Littlehampton-based Nautical Training Corps unit TS Implacable, who was joined by six fellow cadets on the bridge parapet.
It may have taken him a minute or two to summon up his courage, but, with plenty of vocal encouragement from the large crowd lining the river banks and watching from the bridge, Alex stepped into the wide blue yonder.
He said moments after landing safely back on dry land: “It was scary standing up there. I thought I might die!
“I was quite worried but once I hit the water, it was fine. It was a bit of a relief to be in the boat.”
He said it felt good to have taken part because the day was helping to raise vital funds for the NTC.
“I really want to do it again,” he said.
Arun Divers once again organised the leap, and chairman Gary Moore expects the sponsorship cash from the event to total about £3,500, higher than usual. It will be shared between TS Implacable and St Barnabas House hospice at Worthing. Tyndall Jones once again collected donations from spectators, with more than £170 going into his bucket.
“It was an absolutely super day,” said Gary. “It was well supported by the 32 brave people jumping, we had a good number of spectators and the weather was kind, as that cold wind we had been having was gone.
“The NTC were brilliant, letting their youngsters jump, under supervision, and they all enjoyed it. The NTC band was also there, entertaining the crowd.”
Three members of staff from the nearby Arun View pub/restaurant dressed as cheerleaders for their leap, together raising £750 in sponsorship and all the jumpers were invited into the pub after their plunge to warm up with hot soup.
l Anyone who would like to find out about joining the Arun Divers or trying out scuba diving can contact Gary on 01903 413500, mobile 07788 177773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or diving officer Terry Monnery on 01903 369830, mobile 07745 950900 or email email@example.com