Staff members at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust have featured in a clothing campaign for White Stuff.
Senior Pharmacy Technician, Yvonne Wiseman, and Assistant Patient Advice and Complaints Manager, Helen Wild, were featured along with their wild swimming group, Wild and Dipsy Dippers.
White Stuff approached the wild swimming group after spotting one of the group members’ posts on Instagram and asked if they would like to feature in one of their Life, Stuff, Style episodes.
The stories are described as “a celebration of the people who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and stand out from the crowd. A series where we meet the brave, the bold, the ambitious, the vibrant. The people living their own life and doing their own stuff. Stylishly.”
“I was excited when I first heard about the photoshoot but then nerves kicked in as we got closer to the time as I didn’t know what to expect.
“I just kept praying for decent weather on the day.”
Eight members of the club met with a photographer and White Stuff staff by the River Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales where they were given clothing and accessories from the company to model.
“It was a very fun and relaxed day.
“It was great to have my amazing swim group by my side as we spent the day, chatting, laughing and strutting our stuff.
“I feared for everyone getting a glimpse of our crazy conversations as there is no topic that is out of bounds for us (our motto is: what is said at the water’s edge, stays at the water’s edge) but there were laughs a plenty.
“The White Stuff staff even got to embrace their inner child as I brought duck food and they all took turns to feed the ducks.”
Helen initially had mixed feelings about the shoot:
“I had never done anything like this before and I was equally nervous and excited to be involved at first.
“Once the day came, the team from White Stuff and the photographer really put us all at ease and we had a fantastic day in the sunshine.”
Yvonne Wiseman, Senior Pharmacy Technician at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.
Helen Wild, Assistant Patient Advice and Complaints Manager.
The campaign showcased the Wild and Dipsy Dippers enjoying being in each other’s company at one of their usual swimming spots.
“I am so proud to be part of this lovely group of ladies and it was a wonderful experience just being with friends and doing something we love.”
Yvonne hopes the photoshoot will inspire others to love their bodies:
“The White Stuff photoshoot embraces real women, unfiltered, wearing beautiful clothes.
“We thought, how can the younger generation accept their bodies if they see the older generation so hung up on theirs?
“No cellulite, scars, wibbles or wobbles were erased in the photoshoot and we stood proud for all that we stand for – one amazing wild swimming group.”
“I hope we can give others the confidence to try wild swimming and experience the benefits first-hand and be confident with their bodies which has been a work in progress for me.”
Currently, the pink bobble hat-clad wild swimmers have 435 group members, aged 18-83, and around 15 of the group are employees/family of employees at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.
Yvonne joined the women-only swim group after her youngest daughter left home:
“When my youngest was about to leave for University, I was faced with empty nest syndrome and thought it was time to do something different.
“I hate cold water, which is ironic as I used to be a swimming teacher. I also hate fish in the water so wild swimming was way out of my comfort zone.
“I thought, life is too short and signed up for an introduction course where the original six members of Wild and Dipsy Dippers met and went on to form the group.”
Helen Joined the wild swimming group last year after a sudden onset of poor mental health:
“I am a long-time friend of Yvonne’s and when she initially asked if I wanted to go for a swim with her, I never even considered it. I thought it was a ridiculous idea. Cold water – no thanks!
“Fast forward a few weeks later and I felt as though my life had turned upside down and I was quite lost.
“I woke one Monday morning knowing that something had to change so, I messaged Yvonne to ask if she would take me for my first swim. I got so much from it, and I haven’t looked back since.
“My life has been completely changed. Wherever I go now, I look to find somewhere I might be able to swim.
The group have swum across Yorkshire and Lancashire, at sunrise, sunset and night, in rivers, seas and waterfalls.
Both Helen and Yvonne have felt positive benefits since joining the group.
“Wild Swimming gives you a natural high. It’s addictive with positive health benefits and happy chemicals get released with each swim.
“All you have to focus on is your breathing, so it gives you a chance to reset.
“The women I swim with also make it an amazing experience. We are such a supportive group and you arrive as a stranger for a swim and leave with extended family.”
Helen believes that wild swimming has helped her through poor mental health and the menopause:
“Initially, I kept coming swimming because I felt it was essential for my health, but I found that I was really looking forward to going for a swim and felt I had missed out if I hadn’t been.
“There are so many health and wellbeing benefits from swimming and just having the time to be present in nature and enjoy the here and now has been extremely beneficial.
“It’s also nice just being with a group of kind, like-minded ladies, with no judgement. The coffee and cake afterwards are great too.”
To stay safe, you should never go wild swimming on your own. Women can join the group via the Wild and Dipsy Dippers Facebook page where members post to ask who is free for a swim or add swim events.
- Photos courtesy of White Stuff
- Episode five of White Stuff’s Life, Stuff, Style can be read here: https://www.whitestuff.com/life-stuff-style/episode-5/
- Wild Swimming is classed as an extreme sport and the group exercise safety at each swim event. For more safety information on wild swimming, visit https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/open-water-swimming.