Sometimes it's best to get the worst over with - that's what hardy souls who took part in an annual charity challenge must have been telling themselves.

For the people who leapt into an open air swimming pool on New Year's Day as part of the Polar Bear Plunge, 2020 can have few more daunting prospects in sight.

Anyone nursing a hangover soon had more to think about as they found themselves immersed in the waters of St Alban’s former open-air swimming pool in Cottonmill Lane, Sopwell.

Those holding their breath and counting to three were doing so for good causes - three of them: the event raised sponsorship for Age Concern St Albans, Earthworks, a charity which helps people with learning disabilities; and Small Acts of Kindness, a charity that tackles loneliness among the older generation.

And there was no shortage of people braving the chilly dip.

Sopwell resident Peter Wares said: "Despite it being a dull and bitterly cold day, there was a large and enthusiastic crowd eager to take the Polar Bear Plunge."

There was another reward for the icy cold moments. Those who took part were rewarded with free hot chocolate with marshmallows and a hot shower.

The event is hosted by St Alban’s Sub Aqua Club and since 2016 has raised £25,000 for good causes.

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