Brave Wexford women take a dip in aid of the Hope Centre – Gorey Guardian, August 27 2016

‘Girl power at its best’ is how organisers of this year’s Dip in the Nip described the recent event which saw 248 women bare all and make a splash at Rosslare Strand.

The event was the biggest of its kind ever to be organised in Ireland, beating the previous record by 48 people. Along with serving as an empowering social event for women, the dip aimed to raise money for The Hope Centre and at time of writing, over €13,000 had been raised.

‘It was a very emotional event for a lot of people. There was plenty of tears and plenty of laughter,’ explained organiser of the event Eileen Rowe. ‘It really was girl power at its best. Some women told their stories and those who didn’t got inspiration from others.’

Crowds of women sporting their finest dressing gowns gathered on Rosslare Strand in the cool morning air before the dip. Emotions were high for all, particularly for the many cancer survivors who came along to brave the swim.

Now in its second year, the Wexford dip attracted double the participants compared to this time last year. Many people took the icy dip in memory of those who they have lost to cancer. Meanwhile, other swimmers saw the event as an opportunity to celebrate an occasion, such as a hen party, a 50th birthday and a 30th birthday. Dawn Foley from Mayglass took the plunge in a veil and garter just two weeks before she is due to walk down the aisle with fiancé Conor Casey.

‘My sister Christine suggested that we did it as one last thing before I got married,’ said the Mulrankin native. ‘I would recommend it to everyone. You don’t realise what other women have gone through until you see them coming together and showing support for each other.’

The experience proved to be life-changing for Dawn, who said that it has made her look at her body in a different way.

‘It’s not that you are looking at each other but when everyone was running into the water you get that sense that every woman is beautiful in their own body,’ she said. ‘Beforehand, I would have been very self-conscious about my body and scrutinised myself in the mirror but now I am enjoying who I am as a woman.’

After the dip, which Eileen said ‘sent screeches up through the village’, all of the participants gathered in Rosslare Community Centre to pop open some prosecco and enjoy a well deserved feed.

In the coming weeks, the final figure will be officially announced and Eileen expects it to exceed €15,000.

‘We have about €13,000 so far and I know so many people still need to hand in their sponsorship cards in the coming days,’ she said.

(First published in the Gorey Guardian newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/goreyguardian/lifestyle/brave-wexford-women-take-a-dip-in-aid-of-the-hope-centre-34986256.html)

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Wexford group raise an incredible €191,118 for Nepal victims – New Ross Standard, July 16 2016

Eight Wexford trekkers escaped with their lives when they were caught up in the devastating Nepal earthquake last year and in an effort to give something back, they raised €191,118.72 for its victims.

Following several large fundraisers including a concert in the National Opera House and a Midsummer’s Night Ball in Whites, the group donated the money to Trócaire, who pumped it back in to rebuilding Kathmandu. They soon got people from across the county on board and according to one of the eight trekkers Joan Etchingham, it was their generosity and goodwill that made the fundraising initiative as successful as it was.

‘We were completely blown away by the generosity of individuals, groups and businesses in Wexford,’ she said. ‘Everyone was overwhelmed with the amount of support from everyone in Wexford. They did everything, from giving us a fiver to putting on an event to donating their money from birthday parties. We couldn’t have done a fraction of it without their support.’

Concerts, sponsored walks, cake sales, garden parties and church collections were just some of the events that took place over the course of almost three months.

‘It took on a life of its own,’ said Joan. ‘Everyone just went hell for leather when they were hearing about the earthquake on the news. It took us a while to realise how much we had raised and it was only when it all came together that we realised how much of a success it was.’

The eight Wexford trekkers caught up in the quake, which killed more than 8,500 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless, were: Catherine Jordan, Mary Moran, John Nolan, Jimmy Morrissey, Fr. Tom Dalton, Jim McGillicuddy, Ger Colfer and Joan Etchingham.

On witnessing the devastation that occurred all around them, from which they escaped unharmed, they decided they needed to help.

‘We experienced extreme kindness and help from local people in Nepal,’ said Joan. ‘We wanted to repay the kindness that they had shown us.’

The money that the group raised has gone towards building wells for clean water, supplying tents for shelter and providing food, among other things.

The eight trekkers are considering returning to Nepal next year to see first hand where all of the money from Wexford has gone.

‘We would obviously be paying for it ourselves. All of the money has gone to the charity,’ stressed Joan. ‘We would like to go back and see how things are going.’

(First published in the New Ross Standard newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/newrossstandard/news/wexford-group-raise-an-incredible-191118-for-nepal-victims-34875338.html)