A popular festive tradition has received a welcome boost after a new sponsor stepped in to ensure the Christmas Day Swim returns to Lowestoft next month.

After last year's spectacle was cancelled due to the continuing coronavirus crisis - the first year that organisers had known the event to be called off - hundreds of Santas, Christmas elves and superheroes will be back for a 43rd festive plunge.

With organisers of the annual Lowestoft Christmas Day swim now preparing for this year's event, they had been left without a venue for swimmers to register.

But JME Advanced Inspection Systems have now stepped in to sponsor the event with the hire of a marquee for swimmers to register.

Crowds of around 3,000 people turned out to cheer on the brave participants in 2019, as “the biggest turn out yet” of more than 400 registered swimmers took part in the 42nd festive plunge.

Swimmer applications are now open for the 2021 Christmas Day Swim, sponsored by JME and organised and supported by SLT Group, HM Coastguard, The Lowestoft Volunteer Lifeguards Corps, Lowestoft Lions, St John Ambulance and the RNLI.

With JME Advanced Inspection Systems on board to sponsor the long term vision for the swim they have been based in Lowestoft since 1986.

Registration for this year's swim will take place north of The Thatch in a marquee placed on Lord Kitchener’s Gardens.

Since SLT Group took over the organisation of the swim, more than 1000 registered ‘heroes’ have raised £60,000 that has been shared among local beneficiaries.

Matt Stebbings, event volunteer at SLT Group, said: “Due to the disruption of COVID-19 and time constraints, the organising committee have decided to donate the monies to the lifeline of our communities - the NHS - specifically the James Paget Charity Trust.

"The monies raised will be utilised for staff welfare.

"The last 18 months more than ever we have needed our frontline NHS workers and so the monies will be ringfenced for a staff Covid fund."

Maxine Taylor, charity co-ordinator for the James Paget Hospital, said: "It will mean a lot to our team that the local community has once again got behind them and supported them it what has been a very difficult year."

Core charities also benefitting this year are Changing Lives/Making Memories (SLT split representative), Lowestoft Lions, Lowestoft Lifeguards Volunteer Corps and St John Ambulance (local branch).

How to get involved

Claire Henwood, chief executive of SLT Group, said: “This year being the swim's 43rd, we are encouraging swimmers and spectators to donate generously to ensure we smash our target.”

JME general manager, Steve Hunt, said: “After seeing social media posts saying the event may be at risk from going ahead, JME stepped in as the main sponsor to help support such a great local event that raises important money for local charities.”

Swimmers applications are available at www.sltrust.co.uk/xmasdayswim

On registration swimmers are required to make the minimum £5 donation to ensure their registration is complete, with a band system operating this year.