A UNION Jack trunks wearing mayor, a mermaid hat, a hog roast and a baby. Passers-by may have been confused when walking past Bournemouth Spartans’ anniversary celebrations last week.

The winter swimming club celebrated their 70th year of icy dips with a beach party on Branksome Dene which included live music, a funny hat competition and, of course, a swim.

Every Sunday from October to April since 1951, including Christmas Day, the Spartans have entertained onlookers and raised money for charity by swimming in the water off Boscombe, as well as Alum Chine and various other coastal spots.

Spartans chair Hanne Grant said: “It was truly a brilliant day but I have to say we were incredibly lucky that the weather held out.

“The day before the weather was absolutely appalling and I think we feared the worst heading into Sunday. But then we saw the sun come out and the blue sky – we could not believe it.

“We were very proud to hand over a cheque to a members of the RNLI for £70 as a thank you for all they do and they seemed very grateful to have been invited.”

Also in attendance was Mayor of Bournemouth David Kelsey, who went above and beyond by leading a set of swimmers out into the waves in a flashy pair of Union Jack styled trunks.

Cllr Kelsey said: “How did it go? It was cold and wet. I was asked to attend to literally say a few words but I thought if you can’t beat them, join them.

Bournemouth Echo: Mayor David Kelsey leads swimmers into the sea as Bournemouth Spartans celebrate 70th anniversaryMayor David Kelsey leads swimmers into the sea as Bournemouth Spartans celebrate 70th anniversary

“It was a great thing to be able to get involved and I thought it was a brilliantly good event. I’ve never done anything like it before and I actually found it incredibly refreshing.

“Normally councillors wouldn’t get involved and stuck in with something like this, but I felt that it was an ideal time to support a great local group. Heath and vitality, both mental and physical, is what we’re about and events like this is a big part of that.”

Hanne added that the group welcomed a member of the “next generation” as member Maria Parker-Harris brought along her new-born baby boy.

Two Spartans, Pat and Ron Johnson, were made life members having been swimming for the group for more than 50 years.

The group president, Dave O’Donnell, could not attend due to ill health but his brother attended on his behalf – receiving a chain of office to give to Dave.