RUSSELL Main has been jumping into the freezing water of Burghead Harbour for 26 years.
But he never thought that the charities benefiting from his and the other swimmers’ efforts would one day be so close to his heart.
However, that will be the case when Russell and around 100 hardy souls plunge into the harbour to shake off the Christmas cobwebs.
Entries are now being accepted for this year’s Burghead Boxing Day Swim, and the brave battle currently being fought by his 11-year-old daughter, Abbie, will be spurring Russell on this year.
Memories of a friend, Karen Irvine, will also be uppermost in his thoughts as he braves the icy cold.
Abbie is currently undergoing chemotherapy in Aberdeen after being diagnosed with a rare cancer last month.
Russell and wife Tammy, who also have a son Cameron (13), have been overwhelmed by the support of the ARCHIE Foundation and cancer support workers while Abbie has been undergoing her treatment.
So impressed were they, in fact, that they asked the organising committee of the swim, of which Russell was a founding member 26 years ago, if the ARCHIE Foundation could be the main beneficiary of the event this year, and in particular the Moray Friends of ARCHIE appeal to redevelop the children’s ward at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
The swim will also raise funds for the Maggie’s Highland Cancer Centre in Inverness and CLAN Cancer Support, to help its work in Moray supporting people with cancer and their families.
Said Russell, from Elgin: “I have been doing the swim for 26 years, been a member of the committee, and helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for various charities, a lot of them cancer charities, but I never thought for one moment that my own daughter might need their support.
“Abbie is undergoing treatment at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, and it could last up to six months.
“It was her birthday yesterday (Tuesday) and she got individual cards from her whole class, which was lovely.”
Abbie, a pupil at West End Primary in Elgin, has seen her dad jump into the harbour many times, but this year’s event will be an extra-special one for the family.
“The support from the cancer support workers at the hospital and ARCHIE has been phenomenal,” said Russell.
He is hoping that the efforts of the Boxing Day swimmers can help the Moray appeal smash its £100,000 target to benefit local youngsters.
Maggie’s Centre will also receive a windfall from the event, and Carolyn McPherson from the charity will take the plunge in memory of friend Karen Irvine, who died earlier this year from breast cancer.
“We did the jump together in 2004, and I said at that time I would never do it again. However, a group of us will be doing it in support of Karen and Maggie’s in Inverness,” said Carolyn.
Russell added: “I was a good friend of Karen’s when we worked at Moray Leisure Centre together. The committee has chosen three great causes.”
CLAN recently opened a branch in Moray, and the money it recaeives from the swim, said Tracy Sellar, will be spent locally on providing complementary therapies, counselling and support, with transport to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, for people undergoing chemo and radiotherapy.
“My husband and niece are both doing the swim, added Tracey, “and I am sure we will have lots more people doing it too.”
People can register online to take part in the swim, and download a sponsorship form for the event.
It is hoped that more than 100 swimmers will take part, and they are all encouraged to raise as much sponsorship as possible in advance, and bring it on the day.
Sign up to take part at www.burgheadboxingdayswim.co.uk
The event also has a Facebook page.