One last dook in memory of Vicky

A BUNCH of hardy Fifers will start off the New Year in a rather chilly fashion when they take part in their third and final Kirkcaldy Loony Dook on New Year's Day.

But it will be a much more poignant occasion as they will be missing one of their main driving forces - Vicky Hoggan.

On New Year's Day 2007 The Fife Free Press covered the very first Loony Dook from Kirkcaldy Promenade, when a group calling themselves the Langtoun Loonies took to the freezing waters fo the Forth in aid of our Maggie's Centre.

Twelve months ago they braved the icy waters again to raise funds for Rachel House in Kinross, and one dooker immediately volunteered to do it again.

Vicky Hoggan persuaded many others to brave the waves again in 2009, but, sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer in April and passed away in November.

In her memory around, 20 dookers including her daughter, Shirley MacDonald, sister, Holda Donnelly; daughter-in-law, Greta Hoggan and sister-in-law, Joanne McKinlay will plunge into the Forth on Ne'er Day with all the proceeds going to Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Vicky's memory.

A number of Fife companies have already ''sponsored a loony'' for 100 a time.

Ann Bahlaj from Lochgelly, who has taken part in all three events, and is looking forward to the final one.

"It takes courage to force your body into freezing water, and I would like to thank everyone who has taken part over the past two years," she said.

"Vicky was a friend and neighbour of mine and she persuaded us to do a third dook this year because she enjoyed it so much last time. We will miss her.

"I know there are many among us who have had a member of the family or friend diagnosed with breast cancer and, as always, money is needed to research this terrible disease.

''I ask that you consider giving to this cause and making the agony of running into Baltic waters all the more worthwhile for us well named loonies."

Ann is also inviting any other brave soul who would like to share the fun to come along and join the party.

Anyone who fancies giving it a go, perhaps to celebrate turning 30, 40, 50 or just for the thrill of it, should meet around 11.45 a.m. in the car park at the bus garage end of the promenade, dressed in swimsuits, T-shirts, jogging bottoms and trainers.

At noon they will be piped down onto the sands and begin the walk out to the sea. Unfortunately they have only managed to dook at high tide the first year, with one dooker described the walk to the water as being "like the green mile."

Said Ann: "We stop, turn around and raise our hands in thanks to the supporters for coming along to watch, and then it's hands down and we're off!

''Running into what is quite shallow water means our ankles will be aching with cold before we get in up to our knees.

''If you are lucky you will fall all your length and get in over the shoulders, making the rest a doddle.

"It's the hardest thing to do but after all it is only five minutes of your life and we do try to raise a good amount of money."