Hockey-loving Coleraine pupils hit the icy seas for 12 days to raise money for a new £1million pitch

Video and 10 pictures: 13 brave Coleraine Grammar School Year 8 hockey players, and two not so willing teachers, start 12 days of Christmas sea dip fundraiser

They say if you want something badly enough, you'll do anything to get it...And 13 brave Coleraine Grammar School Year 8 hockey players, and two not so willing teachers, are proving this to be the case this Christmas.

The group are undertaking the ‘12 dips of Christmas’ by going into the icy waters of Portstewart and Portrush beaches over the festive period to raise funds for a new £1million hockey pitch at the Castlerock Road school.The fundraiser was the brainchild of pupil Sarah McCaughey from Portstewart who convinced her hockey-loving teammates to join her.

She explained: “We are a group of Year 8's who just love hockey and we wanted to raise money for new sports facilities and hockey pitch at Coleraine Grammar School.

"So my friends and I chose to do a 12 days of Christmas sea dip because we wanted something fun that we could do over the holidays together and would be a real challenge.

“As there are 13 of us we can cover each of the 12 days over the Christmas period as a team - although some of us are hoping to do more than one sea dip!!!“We’ve all been in the sea before as we live close by but this will be the first time we would be running in all together as a team and especially at this time of year as it is so cold.“At the moment we train at Rugby Avenue hockey pitch and have to get the bus there. It will be amazing to have a brand-new hockey pitch over at the new Castlerock Road school when it will be on one site.”

The girls kicked off their 12 sea dips today (Friday) in the blustery weather and were joined by Coleraine Grammar School teachers and hockey coaches Peter Semple and Thomas Cartmill.

Mr Semple, who's head of hockey at the school, explained: "We are delighted that the girls have been so motivated and have come up with this great fundraising idea.

"So far we have raised half of the £1million target to build the new pitch, which is an amazing figure. It’s fundraising events like this that will enable us to reach our goal – pardon the pun.

"We would encourage anyone who can support this event or any other fundraiser to contact the school. We were only disappointed that headmaster Dr Carruthers was unable to join us. The weather wasn’t kind to us today, but we did it and I’m starting to feel my feet again."

The mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, councillor Steven Callaghan, was also on hand to provide his support during their sea dip debut: “It is wonderful to see these young people taking it upon themselves to raise money towards new sports facilities at Coleraine Grammar School.

“They deserve as much support and encouragement as possible – as well as a warm cup of hot chocolate once they have finished! I wish them well in their fundraising challenge and would urge local people to get behind this worthy cause.”

Set to end on January 2, the event has already raised an amazing £1,449, 96% of their £1,500 target.Delighted with the support, Sarah added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support school and our friends and family have shown us as we have already raised well over £1,000 which we would never have anticipated. We are delighted so far and would love to raise as much as we can to go towards the new pitch. We would like to thank everyone so much for the kind donations towards our fundraiser and for their kind words of support. Hopefully after our dips in the sea we can enjoy a lovely warm hot chocolate together.”

Praising the girls on their challenge, a spokesperson from the school, confirmed: “With a move onto one campus imminent in the next school year and in the absence of Department of Education funding for this extracurricular facility, the school is fundraising towards the installation of a new multi-purpose hockey astro-pitch to provide coeducational extracurricular facilities on the Castlerock Road campus.

"Our pupils currently travel to Rugby Avenue to play competitive home hockey matches against other schools. The provision of this new facility will allow our pupils to play their home hockey matches at the school and enable current and future young sports women and men the opportunity to hone and develop their skills using this all weather, floodlit surface.”To donate and support the girls please go to Just Giving page here.

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