Did Helensburgh’s 190 Ne’er Day swimmers RHU their bravery?

Nearly 190 people, ‘frozen, fearless and full of festive fun’, took the plunge into the chilly waters of the Gareloch for the annual New Year Swim on Tuesday … and helped bring the swim’s fund raising total to over £10,000.

The annual Ne’er Day dip has been a tradition in the Helensburgh area for more than 90 years but moved to Rhu in the early 1970s following the Ibrox Distaster and fears over the safety of the railings on Helensburgh’s ageing pier which had, until then, hosted the event.

Councillor Billy Petrie said then: ‘People were saying that the swim should just stop and I suggested that we just hold it off the beach and use the swimming pool facilities for changing — but that was not acceptable.

‘My wife Jean suggested Rhu Marina and they agreed that the swim could be held there – and so it began again.

‘Jean and I remember going along to the swim when we were children with our parents and we used to take our children, so we decided to keep the tradition going.’

Once the swim was re-established the decision was taken to take a collection for the RNLI from the spectators at the popular event and this year the running total was taken over the £10,000 mark with the addition of this year’s collection of nearly £700.

The water temperature was a breathtaking six degrees described by one of the RNLI team as ‘a couple of degrees colder than we normally have expected’.

Helensburgh Lifeboat Crew in the water were; DLA Carrick Roy, Susan Hendry, Ken Miller, Jamie Clark, Lorraine Craig, Michael Logan, Joe Masterson, Stewart McKendrick, Colin Rettie , Yan Jordan and Peter Tindal.

Senior Helm, Robin Lane, was supervising on-shore activities – and keeping a watchful eye on its all was Colin Gardiner, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Helensburgh who received a BEM for his contribution to maritime safety in Helensburgh and around the UK in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.

In all 187 people  – list below – took the plunge this year and of those, 45 were under 16 years-old. The youngest was six year-old Ethan Parsons and the oldest swimmer was Bill McNiff, who is 82, and drove down to Rhu from Kirkintilloch for his 15th annual swim. Respect.

The ladies of the Helensburgh RNLI fund raising committee provided hot soup for the swimmers and the staff at Cafe Rhu were on hand to hand out free cups of soup to the chilled spectators.

Billy Petrie said: ‘I would like to thank the RNLI team who turn out on their holiday every year to make sure the swim is safe and a success and particularly to Colin Gardiner who co-ordinates it all.

‘Thanks must to too, to Donald Fullerton and Admin Services for the certificates, to Fiona Howard and Graham Barr for organising the registration, to Your Radio for their commentary and support, to the Helensburgh Advertiser for printing the forms, to URTV for their support and to the Rhu Marina who provided the changing facilities and showers for the swimmers.

‘And of course we must thank the brave swimmers who took the plunge and the spectators who were there to support them and who gave so generously to the RNLI funds.’

The aim is always to see that every swimmer gets one of the certificates, which include the phrase coined by Helensburgh artist the late Gregor Ian Smith: ‘Many are Cauld but Few are Frozen’, but if there was anyone who took part and did not get a certificate they should:

  • call Fiona Howard on 07789904687
  • or email: fiona@letspromoteukltd.co.uk

Fiona Howard

New Year Swim 2013 – the swimmers – the many who were cauld:


Shelley Anderson, Colin Andrews, Christopher Allwood (13), Erik Archer, Cory Archer (11), David Aromi, Hamish Ashcroft (11), Douglas Ashcroft (8).


Gordon Bellshaw, Ann Brimelow, Justin Beattie, Ashley Bolton, Rae Bolton, Arnold Bretman, Collette Bysouth, Alisha Bysouth (11), Erin Bysouth (8), Georgina Bretman, Nathan Balloch, Frazer Bone, L.Burns, Alex Burns (13), Antonia Burns (11), James Brannan, Ross Bennett (13), Callum Bennett (15),  George Martin-Broadhurst, Esther Birrell.


I.Chambers, G.Chambers (12), BJ Cox, Victoria Cox, Heather Cullen (15), Shaunagh Curley (15), Alan Cane, Paul Chalmers, Donna Chalmers, Elaine Crichton, Fiona Campbell, John Campbell, Simon Cunningham, Tamara Chamberlain, Martin Caldwell, Sophie Canty, Tom Claxton, Georgie Campbell (14), Alan Crossan, Ken Clark.


Amy Dignon, Claire Davis, Mehitabel Douglas-Drysdale, John Dow, Carla Dobbin, Zoe Davidson (11), Andrew Donald, Andrew Ducat, Andrew Doig.


Edward Edie, Daniel Egan.


Stuart Fraser, Gary Fraser (14), Robert Fraser (14), Robert Flannagan, Findla Fingleton, Una Fingleton, Lesley Fitzpatrick, Wiliam Fairey.


Matt Godwin, Sieran Gardner, David Gray, Constance Gatley, Fraser Gray, Sarah Griffiths, Aisling Gallagher (14).


Ross Hamilton, David Hamilton, Finlay Hyde (11), Cat Holling, Jonathan Hicks, Sorcha Hicks (11), Laura Hale, Gary Hurr.


Bill Inglis.


Tayler Jeffrey. Emma Jackson, Craig Jackson, Riana Jones (13), Alex Johnson (10), Stephen Judge.


Graham Kelly, Ross Kennedy, Andrew Kirkaldy, Mark King (14), Paul Kane, Drew Kennedy.


Alexander Lewis (15), Andrew Little, Eilidh Lang (12), Fergus Lang (12), David Lang,  M.Lynch, Josie Lynch, Willie Laurence, Oliver Laurence (13), Gary Laverty, Grace Laverty (11).


April McBride, Lynsey McBride (12), William McCartney, Shaun McDonald, William McNiff (82), Colin McKinley, David MacLauchlan, Tracey Megson, Rachel McBride (13), Fio McEwan, Gillian McCleath, Tristan Maddick, MJ Maddick, Fraser Miller, A McKechnie, Matt Moore, Antoni Morton, A.McKechnie, Kevin Murphy, Laura MacNeil, Rory Monaghan (13), Scott McTominay, Larraine McKinlay.


Robert Nicol, H.Newall, William Newman, Ruaridh Newman, Oliver Newman (13).


Kristina O’Donnell, Eilidh O’Neill, Isla O’Neill (11),  Roisin Owen.


Gary Potter, Mark Parsons, Ethan Parsons (6).


Darren Reid, Michael Roy (12), Alasdair Roy (14), Caitlin Ross, Daniel Rotchford (9), Andrew Richardson.


Scott Sirrel, Chris Scott-Park, Ginny Scott-Park, Gordon Smith, Jamie Smith (11), Tina Smith, Amy Speed-Andrews, John Scott, Ellie Scott, Isla Scott (15), Roisin Slader, Jodie Slaven, Alice Meg Smith (13), Linda Scott, Matt Scott, Caroline Scobie, Lewis Scobie (13), Laura Stephen (12), P.Shaw, Siobhan Smith.


Morven Thompson, Stewart Tacchie,  Isobel Thwaites (14), Elsa Thwaites (14).


Matt Underwood, M.Uncer.


Dan Wright, David Ward, Geraldine White, Gordon Watson, Peter Wilson, Katrina Wylie, Kirsty Walker,  Steve Worsfold.


Michael Yeomans, Daniel York (13)

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