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Boxing day Dip founder presented with rare Paul Harris Fellow award by Rotary Club of Deal

By Eleanor Perkins

The founder of Deal’s most splashtastic annual event has been awarded for her public service.

Margaret Edwards, who started the Deal Boxing Day Dip almost four decades ago, has been made a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest award given out by Rotary International.

The accolade is bestowed upon those whom Rotary consider have performed selfless public service, which Mrs Edwards has done “in spades,” according to former club president Marlene Burnham.

Rotary's Marlene Burnham presents Margaret Edwards with her Paul Harris Fellowship Award
Rotary's Marlene Burnham presents Margaret Edwards with her Paul Harris Fellowship Award

The chilly challenge stemmed from a dare between her husband Geoff and two other Channel swimmers in 1981.

With hard work and commitment, it has grown to become an annual event attracting up to 500 participants and crowds of 6,000.

To top it off, more than £100,000 has been raised in sponsorship helping good causes like Fund for Freddie, Theo’s Mission to Walk and Ellice’s Wish to Walk as well as the Alternative Christmas Experience (ACE) and depression help group Talk It Out.

Dippy: The mad cap dash over the pebbles was started by Margaret Edwards as a dare in 1981 and became a tradition
Dippy: The mad cap dash over the pebbles was started by Margaret Edwards as a dare in 1981 and became a tradition

Earlier this year, Mrs Edwards who lives in the town, passed on the running of the event to the Rotary Club of Deal, whose members will continue the legacy.

She said at the time: “It’s a big heart wrench parting with it but the time has come and I do feel that with the Rotary taking over, it will be able to continue well after I’m gone.”

She was presented the medal on Monday, June 24 at the final luncheon at which Mrs Burnham presided as club president. She is succeeded by Bob Joslin, a former senior customs officer.

Margaret Edwards shows off her Paul Harris Fellowship Award (13302212)
Margaret Edwards shows off her Paul Harris Fellowship Award (13302212)

On becoming a Paul Harris Fellow, Mrs Edwards told the Mercury: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed to receive it.

“It was a total surprise. I never imagined it would happen to me. I was just doing something which I loved, helping others.

“I feel I must accept it for all members of Deal Icebreakers, past and present.”

Mrs Edwards continues to raise money for good causes but on a smaller scale, via bingo sessions in St Leonard’s Church Hall.

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