Cromer’s annual Boxing Day Dip, the fundraising event organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, saw several hundred people, watched by a couple of thousand or more, dip in the cold North Sea.

This year’s cause, chosen by club members, was Cromer Children’s Charity, a small local charity which provides medical treatment and equipment for children in the Cromer area.

The event began with a crowd countdown. It used to be started by a rocket but a few years ago, the rocket nearly brought down a perambulating micro-light. There was a suggestion for a while that a surface-to-air missile might be considered, just as a profile-raising measure, but the idea drifted and eventually faded.

And so again, the dipping crowd were self-starting, orchestrated by club chairman, Clive Hedges, in roaring the countdown, and then, watched by spectators crowding the Promenade, the cliff top, the pier and every vantage point, while bucket collectors mingled, they headed seawards.

With the tide on the ebb, they first had to cross an expanse of sand before hitting the water, and then an expanse of shallow water before hitting enough in which to dip, which, as seasoned dippers will tell you, gets to the feet and ankles fairly quickly. If those are the only bits getting cold, they tend to complain more.

There are two rules: 1. Total immersion, and 2. Total immersion twice, to be separated by a withdrawal from said water. The latter point was refined at the 1997 North Norfolk Dipping Conference by the introduction of Rule 2b which provides that Second Dip cannot begin until all have withdrawn from First. So you always get some clowns wallowing around like they’re in Torremolinos while for those waiting on the beach, well, blast, that lazy wind do blow.

Fancy dresses abounded, from Baywatch, to Jingle Gals and various Christmassy bits, including Christmas presents – ladies with parcels on their heads. Was the parcels’ wrapping paper waterproof?

“No. That’s why they’re on our heads.” Sound.

The trick afterwards is to robe up quickly, but with Coastguard volunteers on the beach, the inshore lifeboat bobbing about and St John’s Ambulance on the Prom, not many casualties occurred.

Which is good, because this year’s Dip has so far raised £3122.10 and counting.

Author, John Worrall