92 hardy souls took the plunge at New Year Swim

ON A FAIRLY mild New Year’s Day and under the watchful eye of the Larne Branch of the Saint John’s Ambulance, Geoff Bell in his 40th swim led another 91 hardy souls into the water at Carnlough for New Years Day Sponsored Swim.

The brave swimmers jumped in at 12 noon in front of a very large crowd to raise funds for the Ballymena Branch of the Spina Bifida Association

With everyone then back on terra firma and changed they made their way to the Bridge Inn to get fed and watered prior to the social festivities taking place.

Prior to the festivities commencing the Bert Kernohan in the absence of the chairman of the Association Billy McIlroy who was hospitalised gave a warm welcome to everyone and wished them all a very happy and prosperous new year on behalf of the association. Bert went on to say it was very pleasing to see so many swimmers on this the 40th year it has been held, and it was very pleasing to see so many visitors and he hoped they would all enjoy themselves and return another time.

Mementoes and certificates were then presented by Mrs. Joan Linton and daughter Ray to the swimmers who had taken part on the day. Ray then presented Geoff Bell with an engraved Memento to mark his 40th year which was rousingly applauded by everyone.

After the presentations the chairman again paid tribute to All 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 £8,500 and this year again has got off to a brilliant start with generous sponsorship from the general public. This once again highlights the generosity of people and the swimmers who are always prepared to support and help ones less fortunate than themselves.

The social festivities which went down a treat then got off to a good start with Bert carrying out the duties of Compere and the Music being supplied by Eugene O’Dornan and Johnny Sayers. First up was the choir singing competition with the ladies up first and coached by Caroline Kernohan and Angela McClement they set a hard act for the men to follow. With Bert conducting the men they put up a great show but at the end Eugene and Johnny the judges declaring honours even with the Ladies retaining the “Ashes”

Irish dancing then followed with quite a number of people showing they still had the taste for the stage before Bert and Geoff showed they still had those twinkling toes to a big round of applause.

After a few hours of entertainment and as the evening drew to a close Bert paid very special thanks to the following people:

John and Susan McAuley Proprietors and Staff of the Bridge Inn for their courteous service and use of the facilities

Eugene O’Dornan and Johnny Sayers true friends of the association who have given of the time freely for many years

Larne branch of the Saint John’s Ambulance for their Attendance at the Swim.

Ballymena Gas. Duke Street. Ballymena for supplying the Gas for the Heaters;

Robert McHenry and the Carnlough Rowing Club for the use of the Boathouse;

Mr. Peter Mairs Proprietor of Presentation Trophies Ballymena who supplied the Swimmers Mementoes;

The following newspapers for their coverage Ballymena & Antrim Guardian, Ballymena Times, Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, Daily Mirror and News Letter.

Radio Cracker and Seven FM for their publicity;

Mrs. Pam Donnell for the Harbour Collection which raised £227.00;

Mrs Pam Donnell and Son Darren who organised the raffle, and to Mrs. Joan Linton and Friends who donated prizes which raised £405.00.

In closing Bert paid tribute once again to Eugene, Johnny, Bert, Choirs, Dancers and General Public and by no means least “The swimmers” without whom the Swim would not be the success it is today.

Next year will be the 41st Anniversary of the event which was started off by John McNeil and the late Bill Bell, Danny Wylie and Aidan Metrusty and it hoped to make this a special occasion.

There were quite a number of new faces taking part in the swim this year along with the usual stalwart’s total of 92 which was the highest number ever taking part all named below:

Raymond Abram; Robbie Sutherland; Ryan Wiggins; Trevor Ashcroft; Donald Thompson; Matthew Thompson; Ernie Graham (Sen); Ernie Graham (Jun); Bobby Graham; Matthew Bowman; Paul Magill; Callum McGarrison; Robin Ramsey; Barry Smyth; Darren Donnell; Curtis Donnell; Mark McConnell; Ronnie Fullerton; Bryce Pascoe; Mark McGeachey; Caitlin McCutcheon; Jasmine McCutcheon; John Smith; Owen Smith; Mark Smith; Stuart Smith; Laura Bruce; Tara Bruce; David Burns; Hanna Turkington; Eve Turkington; James Marshall; Eleanor Quirke; Bryan Ward; Tom Ward; Montel Gilmore; Leanne McFall; Chris Turtle; Trevor Patterson; Derek Parkhill; Simon Murphy; JJ McAnally; Heather McAnally; Megan McClements; Angela McClements; Dana Kernohan; Bert Kernohan; Josh McCrory; Ryan McFadden; Andrew Kernohan; Stuart Gilmore; Anthony O’Rawe; Scott Gilmore; Laura Bruce; Eddie Gilmore; Stephen Williams; Alan McClements; Geoff Bell; Robert Bamber; Callum Bamber; Darren Crawford; Alan McMullan; Sandra Dowds; Emily Dowds; John McCarley; Alan McFall; Mark McFall; John McCormick; Blaine Millar; John Hood; Alan Molloy; Michael Surgenor; Zara Surgenor; Debra Surgenor; Mark McBurney; Nathan Smyth; Caitlin Bain; Callum Bain; Kalib McAuley; Sarah Armstrong; Robert Steele; Karen McBride; Andrew Moss; Audrey Moss; Craig Moss; Greg McKinley; Eugene Heggerty; Jacqueline Steele; Junior Cushenan; Jonathan Elliott; Hugo Carlin.