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Over 1000 turn out for Firth of Forth Loony Dook

Two brave 'dookers' pictured in the icy Forth on New Year's Day. Picture: Neil Hanna

Two brave 'dookers' pictured in the icy Forth on New Year's Day. Picture: Neil Hanna


  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

WITH their fancy dress, unusual accessories and colourful bikinis they created a carnival atmosphere as they parade through the historic streets of South Queensferry at an hour when many Hogmanay revellers were still safely tucked up in bed.

But there was no holding back the 1100 participants in the annual Loony Dook event as the rushed into the icy waters of the Firth of Forth.

Tidal patterns meant a much earlier start than normal for the event - which was being held for the 28th annual occasion - with the parade setting off down the High Street at 10.30am.

But demand for tickets from all over the world was said to be higher than ever, with several thousand onlookers cheering on the “Dookers” from various vantage points around the harbour.

The event, which like the Hogmanay street party the previous night, was played out amid fine weather, was expected to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the RNLI, whose crews were on stand-by watching while the crowds cavorted in the icy waters.

Michael Digance, 37, a bank test analyst, from Dunfermline, was sporting a dress and was armed with a six-foot inflatable dinosaur as he posed for photographs in front of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Before taking a dip, he said: “This is the first time I’ve done it. I’ve heard a lot about the event over the years and thought I’d give it a go. It’s great that it helps raise money for the RNLI.

“I’m not sure why I brought a dinosaur along, I just thought: ‘why not?’ We had a bit of trouble getting it into the taxi to get down here.”

Wendy Stewart, 37, from Broxburn, was leading a group of fundraisers raising funds for an Army Cadets’ trip to Borneo later this year.

“None of us have done anything like this before - there’s 13 of us in total and we decided to come down wearing jungle-themed outfits in keeping with the fundraising campaign. The youngest member of the group is only nine.”

Thea Bach, 22, from Berlin, was one of three German friends sporting skimpy swimming costumes as they headed into the Forth.

She said: “We had already booked our trip to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay festival when we read about the Loony Dook on the internet, and we just thought it seemed like a great idea. We’ve been here for all the events, we loved the torchlight procession, but the street party was a bit chaotic, and there is a really nice atmosphere at this.

“It’s not as cold as we thought it might be and I’m not too worried about going in.”

Office worker Stephanie Lowe, 41, from Fairmilehead in Edinburgh, and two other friends decided to dressed up in berets and onions to help persuade a French Hogmanay visitor, Lucie Meunier, to take part in the Loony Dook with them.

As they emerged from the water after posing for photographer, Ms Lowe said: “We just wanted to make Lucie feel at home in Scotland and it was the birthday of another friend, so we wanted to do something special. It wasn’t too bad when you got in there - I’d definitely do it again.”

Tony Pirouet, 42, from Dunfermline, was last out of the water after sporting probably the warmest costume - which saw him completely covered in bubble wrap.

He said: “I’m a bit fat anyway, so I thought there was no harm in looking a bit fatter. I was actually roasting inside all the bubble wrap and I was able to float on the water.”

He emerged reluctantly from the water to see his friend and fellow Fifer, Kenny Smith, 29, who had earlier been cavorting with him wearing a sailor’s costume, drop to his knees in front of a huge crowd of onlookers to propose to his partner, Gemma.

She said: “It was a real shock when he did it, although I actually had a dream a few months ago that he was going to do that.”

Meanwhile hundreds of Orcadians took to the steets of Kirkwall for the annual Ba’ game, which kicked off at 1pm and went on for several hours.

Some form of street football has been played on Christmas Day and New Year’s Da since at least 1850 between the town’s “Uppies and Doonies”, named depending on which side of the Old Norse gate they live on.

Kingussie’s New Year was launched with its traditional shinty festival, while in Pitlochry hundreds of locals took to the town’s Atholl Road for the biggest open-air ceilidh of the day in Scotland.

 

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