THOUSANDS of people watched as fundraisers braved the cold to take part in the Lyme Lunge and welcome in 2018 in style.

It is the 10th year the event has been organised by Lyme Regis Rotary Club, although its roots stretch back even further.

John McCallum, press officer for the club, said there was a ‘great atmosphere’ on the day, with the event bringing a real boost for town businesses.

He added: “We really had super weather. We think about 2,500 people came to watch – which is near enough the whole population of Lyme – and about 600 swimmers took part.”

Many swimmers were in fancy dress for the New Year’s Day event, with popular costumes including penguins, mermaids and reindeer as well as a few people in Donald Trump masks.

Mr McCallum said he spoke to businesses after the event, and they all reported a boom in trade.

“They said it was fantastic. It does really benefit the town, which is great, because a lot of businesses get behind it.”

Funds raised directly from the event will this year be going to Shelterbox, which is run by Rotary and provides emergency shelter and tools for families who have lost their homes because of disasters around the world.

But participants are also encouraged to raise sponsorship for causes close to their own hearts.

Mr McCallum said the event is always well-supported, with organisational help from Axminster Rotary, the RNLI helping keep people safe in the water and St John Ambulance on hand to help if needed.

The Harbour Inn also provided a much-needed cup of hot soup for swimmers after they took the plunge.