If you’d have told me earlier this year, I’d be happy being photographed in my swimsuit, let alone… well… even less than my swimsuit, I would NEVER have believed you. I’m five foot one, weigh far more than I should, with size 22 hips, and I’m nearer 60 than 50? Up until recently, my body confidence was extremely low. How things change! In part, this is down to finding the right things to wear to flatter my figure. But there is more to it than that. Thanks to the confidence I have found sea swimming with a wonderful bunch of ladies, I’m much happier stripping off. And, guess what? I’m going to be a calendar girl!
Raising money for St Wilfrid’s Hospice
One of my fellow sea swimmers, Christine, a fun-loving and astonishingly brave lady, recently lost her husband, Roy. St Wilfrid’s Hospice made a huge difference to her family in those incredibly important last few months they had together. Luckily, she also found the Felpham Dippers (an off-shoot of the Bluetits of Bognor) and started sea swimming with us. One sunny morning in October, she explained how she wanted to raise money to enable others to benefit from St Wilfrid’s loving care in the same way she, her husband and her daughter had. Having bounced a few ideas around and inspired by the famous WI calendar girls, we settled on a saucy sea swimming-themed calendar.
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UPDATE FEBRUARY 2022: I’m delighted to say, we raised a whopping £5,800 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice from the sales of our calendar.
Giggles on the beaches of Sussex
It was already the end of October so we knew we had to move fast to have the calendars in time to sell in the lead up to Christmas. In the following weeks, we had several photoshoots on the local beaches. While some of the ladies were keen, others, including me, weren’t so sure. Did I even want to be in the calendar? But I went along to the first shoot anyway. And I’m so glad I did. The experience has been hysterical and, of course at times, also poignant.
First, we wanted to get a few photos to promote the calendar and a front cover.
For the second shoot, things got a little more risqué. Giggles rang out across the sand, much to the surprise of a few locals. It must have been quite a shock to come across scantily clad ladies, of varying ages, posing in the sand dunes one November afternoon!
Thanks to Jacqueline Rackham Photography
In some photos, we have our swimsuits on, in others, maybe not! Yet, thanks to the wonderful photographer, Jacqueline Rackham, who gave her time and expertise free of charge, we’ve produced what I think is a very professional and beautiful calendar.
Thanks to Gorilla Robes
A local company based in Emsworth, Gorilla Robes, have kindly sponsored the calendar. I have two of their robes (one for summer and one for winter) which I love. I thought they’d be the perfect sponsors for our calendar and luckily, so did they!
Not only have Gorilla Robes generously paid for the printing costs, but they have also given several of their eco-friendly changing robes to offer as raffle prizes. Anyone buying a calendar will be entered into a draw to win one of the robes as seen below. You can read my review of their ECO Recycled Changing Robe (which I wrote long before the idea of a charity calendar popped into our heads). I now also have one of their waterproof robes, which is perfect for winter and I’ll be reviewing that soon too.
The perfect Christmas Gift
Whether it’s a gift for your partner, your best friend or your great aunt Mabel, I think this 2022 calendar makes a great present especially for anyone who lives near or has fond memories of Sussex and our beautiful beaches, more specifically Littlehampton, Elmer, Felpham and Bognor Regis. Together with the lovely ladies that I regularly swim with, we’ve made what we think is a rather special calendar for 2022. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.
How to buy a sea swimming calendar
The calendars, which are currently being printed, cost a suggested donation of £10 each plus postage and packing (with a 10% discount if you buy more than one). To get hold of your calendar, please email [email protected], with your name and postal address and we will send you the payment details.
Gaining body confidence, not to mention some wonderful friends, through sea swimming
My confidence and joy in life have both increased immeasurably since I started swimming with these wonderful ladies. And creating this calendar has brought us even closer together. You can see from our faces just how much we are enjoying ourselves. And I’m sure many of the ladies will remain life-long friends.
All the photography featured in this blog post is by Jacqueline Rackham
Now, as we head towards December, I’m still swimming in the sea, three or four times a week. For the first time ever, I even went skinny dipping for the November full moon – a body confidence bucket list moment if ever there was one.
And yesterday, three months to the day after Roy passed away, on what would have been his birthday, we met on the beach in the glorious autumnal sunshine. With an air temperature of 6°C and a sea temperature of 9°C, we had the most beautiful swim, this time with our swimsuits on you’ll be pleased to hear!
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