A VILLAGE near Ashbourne once again invited the area’s daredevils to take a leap of faith into the river Dove’s ice-cold depths at its annual New Year’s Day bridge jump.
Despite torrential rain, and occasional hail, the crowds turned up in force to watch more than 30 people, many in fancy dress, compete in the Mappleton raft race and bridge jump.
The event was organised for the second year by the town’s Lions club following the death of original organiser Jim Breeze in 2012.
Bucket collectors were out in force, to help raise funds for Ashbourne’s defibrillator project.
Councillor Ann Smith, who launched the defibrillator appeal last year and has been involved with the bridge jump since it first started more than 25 years ago said: “It was great to see Terry Brown and George Ditchfield win again.
“They were also part of the original team who started jumping all those years ago, when we only had metal rafts, which were awful because they kept sinking.
“Jim Breeze and his wife Pat, Ian and I went along to a camping and caravanning show at the NEC some years after, simply to look for suitable boats, and we have been using the plastic ones we bought there ever since.”
The bridge jump has grown in popularity over the last 25 years, now attracting hundreds of spectators from all over the country.
Lee Bennett and Anita Carter heard about the jump at the last minute, after travelling to Ashbourne from their home in Birmingham to spend a few days exploring the Peak District.
Mr Bennett said: “It’s a fantastic event, they are all mad.
“We came up to Ashbourne in a group of 14 and have really enjoyed our visit.
“We went to the stepping stones at Dovedale, and found lots of gorgeous walks, but this really is the highlight.
“We might even do it ourselves next year.”
As in previous years Ashbourne’s Sub Aqua Club was in charge of water duties and helped many of the leapers make it to the river bank, as well as making sure the area was kept safe for both spectators and participants.
One of the sub aqua clubs oldest members, Gerald Sargent, 81, joined in the fun once his river rescue duties were over, with a spectacular leap into the water, and then letting his club colleagues drag him to shore as he relaxed in the water.
Last to jump was Barry Wright, who dedicated his leap to Jim Breeze, which was loudly cheered by everyone there.