HUNDREDS of people braved the elements for New Year’s Day dips in the North Sea.

In Saltburn, a dozen or so men and women dressed up in costumes and ran into the sea, while others took their pet dogs into the chilly water.

They were raising money for the Saltburn Animal Rescue Association (SARA), which is trying to fund improvements to its Foxrush Farm centre in Redcar.

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Sheila Green, secretary of SARA, said this was the 13th year the charity had organised a New Year’s Day dip.

She said: “It was a bit tricky at first because the storm damage to the front meant everyone couldn’t meet in the same place and they were scattered along the beach, but in the end we got everyone to The Ship Inn.

"There were people dressed as reindeers and all kinds running in. Members of the public came to watch and were very generous donating money in buckets we had to hand.

“The weather wasn’t too bad this year. Other times we’ve had storms and all kinds and people have still gone in. This time the rain held off until we were just leaving.

“We won’t know how much we’ve raised until the sponsorship forms have come in, but we expect it to be about £1,000. This year all the money will go improvements to Foxrush Farm.”

Further north at Whitley Bay, many people donned fancy dress for the traditional start to January, while more sensibly dressed spectators in coats, scarves and woolly hats packed along the promenade to watch.

Just before 11am the dippers revealed their costumes and entered the icy waters at the coast.

Christopher Heighway, 35, from Consett, County Durham, said: “Last year was my first time. I ran in to my knees and fell straight over but I’ve managed to convince my friends it’s a good thing to do.

“It was a great atmosphere in the water. I’m going to do it next year as well.”