Christmas Day with a difference across England

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Christmas dip in the sea in Christchurch, Dorset.Image source, Barry Wilson
Image caption,
Hundreds braved a Christmas dip in the sea in Dorset

Most of us like to celebrate Christmas with our feet up, scoffing mince pies and opening presents.

But spare a thought for those who have special things to do, from sea swimming to feeding the lonely - and even giving birth.

'Do something a bit crazy'

Image source, Barry Wilson
Image caption,
Barry Wilson took part in the swim in his Christmas suit along with Neal Williams

Barry Wilson, 34, was one of the hundreds braving a Christmas dip in the sea in Christchurch, Dorset.

"It's just a bit of fun, taking away from the sometimes stress of organising children and cooking Christmas dinner," he says.

"Half an hour where you can just do something a bit crazy."

The dip has been organised by Macmillan Caring Locally to fundraise for a new hospice at Christchurch Hospital.

It's the third time Mr Wilson has taken the plunge on Christmas Day.

"If it's really cold on the outside before you go in it's not actually too bad, because your body temperature has kind of dropped anyway so you don't feel it as much," he says.

"If the sun's out, which it has been some years, and it's slightly warmer than a normal December day, then you feel the chill a little bit more as you go in.

"It's refreshing. Most people embrace and just go for it."

'Best Christmas present ever'

Image source, Lindsey McNamara
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Victoria Hilden said the labour was a "long process, but all very worth it"

If you thought getting the turkey dinner ready in time was a challenge, think about the mothers giving birth.

Two little girls became the first babies to be born on Christmas Day at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent.

The first, who has not been named yet, said hello to the world at 01:36 GMT, weighing in at 7lbs 2oz.

Mum Victoria Hilden, 31, from Faversham, described her little bundle as the "best Christmas present ever".

She said the labour was a "long process, but all very worth it".

Image source, Lindsey McNamara
Image caption,
The babies were delivered by the midwives at William Harvey Hospital

Baby number two then made her big entrance at 03:08.

Lexii weighed 6lbs 11 oz and was described by her mum Jodie Witts, from Canterbury, as "our little Christmas miracle".

Ms Witts said it was a "long delivery" but she was very happy and looking forward to getting home.

The Parkrun Elvis

Image caption,
Simon Goldsmith helped out at his local Parkrun on Christmas Day morning

Postman Simon Goldsmith, 46, was spending his morning marshalling runners at Kesgrave Parkrun, near Ipswich, as he has done for the past three Christmas Days.

"I don't have any expectant children at home and my wife, Fiona, works on Christmas Day," he says.

"It's a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere because there isn't anywhere near as many participants, and there's also often a small bottle of something nice knocking about for those not planning to drive anywhere later.

"It's great spending an hour on Christmas Day with some of the really good friends I've made since joining the team in 2016."

Image source, Simon Goldsmith
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Simon Goldsmith also performs as Elvis

Later on he'll be donning his blue suede shoes and performing at a care home as his alter ego, the "low budget" Elvis tribute Harry Isaac Presley.

"It's been especially important to me since visiting my mum on Christmas Day at the care home she was in - I found it very difficult," he says.

"I've since felt very guilty about the trouble I had visiting her there.

"Going to similar places and helping in some way is something I find cathartic, as well as enjoyable now."

'Feeding the lonely in memory of nan'

Image source, Anne Houghton
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Anne Houghton and her family were joined by a team of volunteers to help serve up the feast

Anne Houghton is feeding almost 100 people in memory of a caring relative.

The elderly care nurse, who is on maternity leave from Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, has raised more than £700 for those who would normally spend the day alone.

"I just put a plea on Facebook and I could have been anyone but there's a lot of good people out there," she says.

Mrs Houghton's four eldest daughters and husband Mark were joined by a team of volunteers to help serve up the feast.

Between them they served 10 turkeys, 200 pigs in blankets and more than 20kg of vegetables from a kitchen at Sedgley Community Church.

Health workers and police officers have nominated elderly and disabled recipients from across Dudley.

Image source, Anne Houghton
Image caption,
Anne started the appeal in memory of her late nan Shirley Ash, who died six years ago

The Houghton family has also been distributing sleeping bags to the homeless.

Mrs Houghton, from Gornal, started the appeal in memory of her late nan Shirley Ash, who died six years ago.

"She'd have done anything for anyone. She'd have given you her last pound in a bucket," she says.

'I'm climbing the walls'

Image source, Mark Diaz
Image caption,
Ffion Diaz raised money for charity by climbing

Ffion Diaz, 15, was spending part of Christmas Day at an indoor climbing wall in Gloucester.

The Warehouse Climbing Centre opened its doors on 25 December to raise money for the charity Climbers Against Cancer.

Miss Diaz says it's an "unusual" thing to do, but "a great chance to help raise money to help other people, and to have fun while doing it as well".

"It's for a good cause. I know a lot of people who have had cancer," she says

"I'll be able to go to bed thinking I've helped other people."

Standing by for a sea emergency

Image source, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust
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Nick Porter will be ready to launch the lifeboat if called upon

While Nick Porter will be able to tuck into his Christmas dinner, as Southport lifeboat's coxswain it will be strictly no booze for him for this year.

At a moment's notice, Christmas day or night, he could have to drop everything and dash to meet his fellow volunteers to launch their boat.

"I've been doing it for about 14 years, since I was 16," says Mr Porter.

"But because my dad joined in 1992 I've been going down there since I was a toddler. It's a real family business - my uncle was part of the original crew in 1989."

As well as spending four or five hours training every Thursday, Nick helps run his family's bedding plant business.

The volunteers, as well as 10 others who administer the charity, also spend a lot of time fundraising.

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Mr Porter says there are 60 to 70 independently run lifeboats in the UK solely dependent upon donations.

"We get about 25 to 30 shouts per year - summer tends to be the busiest when folk are out and about on and near the water," he says.

"Winter shouts tend to be more serious because of the weather being poor and the sea rougher.

"It also tends to be harder because there are a lot of people who are depressed, feeling lonely or suicidal."

Keeping the Christmas roads moving

Image source, Highways Agency
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Andrew Binns and Gavin Buffam are keeping traffic moving

Andrew Binns, from Sprotbrough in South Yorkshire, is working as a Highways England traffic officer for the late shift.

Along with colleague Gavin Buffam, Mr Binns patrols motorways and A-roads across Yorkshire and the North East to help keep traffic moving.

It is his seventh Christmas Day at work, in a 14-year career as a traffic officer.

Mr Binns, who has three grown-up daughters, says he does not mind working Christmas Day to help staff with young families spend Christmas together.

His favourite festive working memory? A rest stop near Wakefield.

"One Christmas we were at the services and a young lad went past with his father and waved," Mr Binns says.

"On their way back they presented us with a tray of doughnuts and said thanks for keeping us moving. It was a lovely gesture and made me feel really quite emotional."