Quirky pals who discovered they had been unwittingly living parallel lives after they met wild swimming celebrated their joint 25th wedding anniversaries by wearing their bridal gowns in the sea.
Dental nurse Justine Edge and hairdresser Sarah Warburg became friends in January when they met through the Cleveleys Crazies wild swimming group.
Both aged 47, they discovered that not only were they both born on April 4, 1974, but they were delivered just five hours apart at Glenroyd Maternity Hospital in Blackpool, Lancashire.
They also each have two children with their husbands – Andrew Edge, 47, who runs a dog day care service and Brian Warburg, 48, an audiologist – and both had 25th wedding anniversaries in August, just a week apart.
“We were chatting about our age and found out that not only were we born on the same day five hours apart, but we also were born at the same hospital, ” said Justine.
“We just had so much in common. We were both mums of two, we both live on the Fylde coast and are even both the same height – just 4ft 11ins.”
She added: “Then, when I mentioned that my 25th anniversary was coming up in August, I couldn’t help but laugh when Sarah said it was hers too.”
“We married in the same month just a week apart. It was amazing that we had so much in common. There were so many spooky coincidences!”
And when Justine – who discovered the Cleveleys Crazies during an annual New Year’s Day sea dip to raise money for charity – decided to celebrate her 25th anniversary by running into the ocean in full bridal regalia, Sarah could not wait to join her.
“It was the perfect way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversaries,” said Justine.
“It was amazing. Braving the elements in the original dresses we wore 25 years ago was fantastic. We both love wild swimming, so it made perfect sense!”
A fan of wild swimming – where people swim at local beaches, reservoirs and lakes in all weathers – for six years, Justine joined the Crazies in January 2021.
“I was doing a sea dip, where you run into the sea to raise money for charity, on New Year’s Day,” said Justine.
“Then I saw this group of women all swimming in the sea and asked them what they were up to. They belonged to the Cleveleys Crazies and, as you could swim during lockdown, they went in the icy sea every day.
“I chatted with them and thought, ‘Why aren’t I doing this with them?’”
She added: “I bought a wetsuit a few days later and started meeting up to swim, too. It was amazing for my mental health. When my head hit the icy cold water I just felt completely refreshed.”
She soon befriended Sarah, who had joined the group in November 2020 and, as they got to know each other, their parallel lives were revealed.
While Justine had been just 15 when she met Andrew at secondary school and they became a couple, they tied the knot on August 31, 1996, and went on to have two daughters, Caitlyn, 21, a floor manager, and Bethany, 17, a full-time student.
“Andrew and I met at school,” said Justine. “We were childhood sweethearts and have been together for 31 years. He’s the love of my life.”
Meanwhile, Sarah met Brian on a three-legged pub crawl in 1993, when she was a friend’s plus one at his work party.
They were married on August 24, 1996, and have two sons, Oliver, 22, an optical assistant, and Harry, 19, a full-time student.
And when the women decided to go really wild on August 12 and frolic in the waves in their wedding dresses to mark their silver anniversaries, their husbands were happy to follow suit.
“I forgot about my wedding dress until I found it stuffed under the bed,” said Justine.
“I’d seen a few pictures of couples wild swimming on their anniversaries and decided that I really wanted to swim with Andrew in my wedding dress on our 25th.”
She added: “I excitedly told Sarah about my celebration plans and she loved the idea, especially as she also still had her wedding dress.
“It seemed bonkers not to do it together, so we made the plan to swim on August 12, as the weather was meant to be better.”
So, both women slipped into their 1990s bridal gowns, while their husbands wore dinner suits they already owned, and the foursome took to the beach – running into the chilly sea to celebrate a quarter century of marriage.
“It was amazing. Braving the elements in the original dress I wore 25 years ago was fantastic,” said Justine. “Andrew is a keen swimmer, so he thought it was a great idea.”
While Brian also embraced the idea, he took slightly more convincing, according to Sarah.
She said: “Brian’s not a strong swimmer.”
She added: “But, despite being a bit nervous about the water, he was completely on board with the anniversary dip. He’s so supportive and it was a lot of fun – although he made me promise to not go in above the knee!”
Prior to the pandemic, Sarah had already thought up some quirky plans for her milestone anniversary.
“We were meant to renew our vows in Las Vegas but, due to Covid, our plan couldn’t go ahead,” she said.
She added: “So, we were very excited to do something to celebrate 25 years together. I love wild swimming, making it the perfect way to celebrate.
“I was so excited to go swimming in my wedding dress. I get it out every now and then to do silly things like the hoovering.
“I used to wear it all the time when my sons were little. They would say, ‘Mummy’s a princess.’”
She added: “Luckily, since our dip, my dress has come out of the wash sparkling, too!
“Wild swimming in our wedding dresses was definitely one of the best ways we could have celebrated our joint anniversaries.”