DOZENS of people inspired by a schoolgirl who is battling cancer ran into the icy North Sea yesterday (Saturday 22) to raise money for charity.

More than 130 people travelled to Seaton Carew, near Hartepool, to support the dip and together have raised almost £3,000 for children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

The fundraiser was organised by Paula Foster, whose daughter Sophie, 11, was diagnosed with leukaemia in February last year.

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Mrs Foster, from Shildon, County Durham, said: “It’s incredible how many people have come along today, both to join in and to support us.

“The atmosphere was electric running into the sea, we were all screaming and it was so cold it completely took our breath away.”

Among the outfits were batman, a banana, a character from Baywatch and even a mankini.

Laura Williamson, a family friend, ran into the sea wearing a bikini.

She said: “When I heard what Paula was doing I thought she had gone a bit mad, but it’s for such a good cause I couldn’t say no.

“My heart was racing as we ran in, it was freezing but I just kept running.”

Kirsten Ellis, a social worker for CLIC Sargent, has supported the Foster family since Sophie’s diagnosis.

She joined in the dip and said: “It’s been fantastic, the family have had a lot of support from CLIC Sargent and it’s wonderful to see them wanting to give back and help other families.

“It’s lovely to see so many people here. We are hoping to make it an annual event.”

CLIC Sargent is solely dependent on charitable donations, and can only help three out of four young people diagnosed with cancer.

About 150 children are diagnosed each week in the North-East.

Mrs Foster will continue to raise money for the charity and is already planning the next event.

For more information or to make a donation, visit clicsargent.org.uk