For the seventh year in a row, Strip and Dip is taking place in Wicklow to raise vital funds for children’s cancer charity Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. We caught up with organiser Deirdre Featherstone to find out more
Few things are as powerful as a woman on a mission; and when that woman is surrounded by other women (all of whom are in the nip and determined to fight cancer), they’re unstoppable.
On Saturday, June 8, women from all over Ireland will unite to “kick the sh*te out of cancer” with the world’s largest skinny dip. Now in its seventh year, Strip and Dip gives women of all ages, from all backgrounds, an opportunity to celebrate their bodies while raising much-needed funds for charity.
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Many of those taking part have battled cancer in the past; others are going through treatment now, while some are there to celebrate family and friends who’ve gone through it.
What’s more, Strip and Dip isn’t about ‘looks’; it’s about life; and with a World Record and over €650,000 in donations under its belt, Team IMAGE is proud to support it.
Photo via Strip and Dip Facebook page
How it all started
Strip and Dip was founded (and continues to be organised annually) by Deirdre Featherstone; an Irishwoman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and underwent a mastectomy in 2013.
In an effort to cheer herself up (not to mention raise much-needed funds for childhood cancer) Deirdre decided skinny dipping was the way to go. More than €659,000 later, the female-led charity event is still going strong.
Photo by Christine Taylor
When it comes to organising Strip and Dip, safety is paramount. It’s important to Deirdre that anyone taking part feels comfortable in a safe, secure environment.
For that reason, only women over the age of 18 are allowed to take part, and only those who have registered in advance are granted access to the beach. “The wonderful Wayne ‘Geordie’ Jones is the only man on the beach on the day,” says Deirdre, “and he organises everything for us every year to ensure our safety.
“Last year we broke the Guinness World Record for the largest skinny dip,” she adds. “It’s lovely to look back and see just how far we have come and what we have achieved – from 50 people in 2013 to 2,505 in 2018”.
Speaking to IMAGE.ie, Deirdre says the atmosphere on the day “is absolutely electric”. Understandably, she says some women are very nervous for the first few minutes, but they soon relax.
“Women come from all over Ireland and the UK on their own,” she tells us, “and within minutes, they have found new friends. We look after everyone – that’s what women do.”
Photo by Barbra Hackett
No need to be body-conscious
If you’ve signed up to take part in this year’s event, Deirdre says there’s no need to feel self-conscious. “Your thoughts about your body image will be gone the minute you hit the beach,” she tells us.
“We have ladies of all different shapes and sizes; a lot of lost boobs to breast cancer; some will dip with colostomy bags and some go in in wheelchairs. Ladies will look around and wonder why they felt self-conscious.
Related: After two cancer diagnoses, I’ve finally regained my body confidence
“It’s quite amazing, as on the day you don’t notice the nakedness. This is my seventh year and I can’t remember what any of my friends look like naked – and sure why would I? It’s just flesh; it’s what’s inside that counts,” says Deirdre with a smile.
How to get involved
While registration for this year’s Strip and Dip is now closed, there are still a number of ways to help out. For example, click the ‘like’, ‘follow’ and ‘share’ buttons on the event’s Facebook page; or donate whatever you can via idonate.ie/stripanddip.
Good luck to all the ladies taking part this year – no doubt it will be a huge success.
Top photo by Christine Taylor
Read more: Breast cancer awareness: how to check your breasts at home
Read more: ‘Mummy has cancer’: How to talk to children about a parent’s diagnosis
Read more: After two cancer diagnoses, I’ve finally regained my body confidence
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