Friends celebrate 30th time participating in South Queensferry Loony Dook

Iain Armstrong and Jim Mackenzie completed their 30th Loony Dook last week
Iain Armstrong and Jim Mackenzie completed their 30th Loony Dook last week
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When most of us wake up on January 1, the last thing on our minds would be to run head first into a freezing river.

With most people rolling out of bed with a bit of a ‘nippy heed’ the thought of taking a quick dip in the River Forth with over 1000 other loonies would seem like the worst idea ever to try and cure your hangover.

Over 1000 people were brave enough to venture into the river Forth

Over 1000 people were brave enough to venture into the river Forth

However for friends Jim Mackenzie (59) and Iain Armstrong (51) it is exactly the way they have spent the first day of the calender for 29 years and 2016 will be no different.

The Loony Dook started 30 years ago and Iain described its humble beginnings.

He said: “It was just guys having a chat in a pub and someone came up with the idea of jumping in the river on January 1, as a cure for our hangovers.

“That was it, as simple as that.” 
Jim was surprised anyone actually turned up on the day.

One of the first Loony Dook's from around 1990. Jim Mackenzie  is third from left and 'Iain Armstrong fourth from left.

One of the first Loony Dook's from around 1990. Jim Mackenzie is third from left and 'Iain Armstrong fourth from left.

He said: “I was shocked to find that twelve of us were there in the morning.

“The idea was started while we were having pints of Guiness, so alcohol is to blame.”

The event grew in popularity and this year will see 1200 flood the river in a variety of wacky and funny costumes as people from around the world make a splashing start to their new year.

Jim said: “It is incredible this event has snowballed into such a big deal. It is a global tradition, even Fifers have a go.”

The Loony Dook is not just for the maddies that are brave enough to dive into the water, a large crowd is always on hand to cheer them into the Forth.

Iain said: “The atmosphere is one of the best things about it. Seeing so many people cheer you on just adds to the excitement.”

The pair have attended the Loony Dook for 29 years but both are always hoping to do one more than the other.

Jim said: “Sometimes I wait and go at the back of the parade so Iain can’t see me.

“Once he is in the water, I can see him looking for me, smiling.

“That is when I give him a tap on the shoulder to wipe that smile off his face.”

Iain, a postal worker from South Queensferry, said one of his highlight years was the millennium. He said: “That year it was shown live on TV and we even had some whiskey to pass around.”

Jim, who also lives in South Queensferry, is proud to pass on the tradition to his daughter, Shona (33) when the time comes.

The Edinburgh Airport worker said: “My son Scott (35) was one of the youngest to do it when he was nine, however he vowed never to do it again.

“Shona is on her eighth year and will continue after I eventually stop.”

Both men say the feeling of the cold water has not got any easier despite 30 years experience.

Jim said: “You can prepare yourself mentally but it is still cold. I found out you can’t scream under water on my first go.”

Iain had some tips for anyone’s maiden voyage. He said: “You can’t go slow or you will never go in past your ankles. A brisk walk and no looking back is best.”

The event has sold out and Pete Irvine, Director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said “The Loony Dook is a flagship event for South Queensferry and Scotland.”