Model stresses importance of family and friends during her well-documented health struggles
Katie Piper has plunged into icy Welsh waters to highlight the importance of support from friends, family and community during life-changing ordeals.
The TV presenter joined the Bluetits, a group of female-only open water swimmers, in freezing temperatures as an act of solidarity.
Ms Piper braved the waves at Porthsele beach, which sits on the south side of greater Whitesands Bay.
Her initial shock at the cold temperatures was overcome as the model crept into the bitter waves before becoming fully submerged.
She soon burst into laughter and smiles as she embraced the experience with fellow Bluetits.
Founded in 2014, the group consists of 1,000 members across the country who ditch the wetsuits and come together all-year round to bathe in sea temperatures as low as six degrees.
Throughout Ms Piper’s well-documented, difficult medical history, she relied heavily on family, friends, doctors and nurses for support and took the dip to celebrate the significance of communal strength.
The Bluetits members regularly come together to reap the benefits of cold-water swimming as they support each other.
Ms Piper was made an honorary member with the Bluetits, whose members range from the ages of 18 to 66.
She said: ‘’Whilst I was anxious about taking the plunge, the support and encouragement they gave me was brilliant and really showed me the spirit of who they are – a group of women who stand by each other.
“I met women who were going through cancer treatment who told me about how the group is helping them stay strong. Another woman told me that cold water swimming was improving her mental health.
‘’It was a once in a lifetime experience and I feel honoured to have become a Bluetit and have met these women who are the epitome of everyday heroes.”
Sian Richardson, Founder of The Bluetits, said: “The Bluetits aren’t just about cold-water swimming – it’s so much more.
“When you first get into the water your mind goes blank and you can’t think of anything else beyond swimming.
“After you’ve been that vulnerable in the cold water all barriers are knocked down and you can talk to anyone about anything.
“The conversations I have had with these women have given me friends for life and I know that no matter what, I have a group of strong women by my side to help me through any challenging times.”
Eugene Farrell, Mental Health Lead at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “Someone who is in our corner can take many different forms.
“They don’t have to be physically near us, but it’s that person who can help explain the silly things we don’t understand, encourage us when we don’t have courage, push you when you want to give up and challenge us by asking that difficult question.
“Most of all, they’re that person you trust and respect who supports you not only when you need it but when you don’t even realise you do.