A Watford woman plunged into icy Antarctic waters in a bid to raise money for the National Animal Welfare Trust.

Claire James took part in the Polar Plunge last month as part of her fundraising efforts for the charity, based in Tyler’s Way, which predominately looks after dogs.

The 58-year-old, who is a trustee of the charity, decided to take on the chilly challenge in the hope that something out of the ordinary would attract much-needed support.

She said: "Doing something a bit different and putting myself out there was not easy but I thought it would attract a bit of interest.

"NAWT is something I have supported for many years as they do so much wonderful work for animals."

The Parkside Drive resident set off from Ushuaia, in Argentina, with more than 100 other passengers on board the Sea Adventurer.

She said: "We were trying to get as far south as we could. We went through the Lemaire Channel, through the Gerlache Strait and then crossed the Antarctic circle.

"We got to the stage where there was ice so thick that the ship couldn’t break through and we were surrounded by big ice bergs so we couldn’t go any further south.

"This meant we did our Polar Plunge at the furthest southern point you could go."

Out of 114 passengers on board the ship, 35 plunged into the water, which was 0.3 degrees in temperature.

Ms James, wearing nothing but a swimsuit and rubber shoes, said: "They had to push ice away from the area I was planning to jump into. I stood there with a belt around my waist, walked down the steps and jumped in.

"I remember spotting a couple of seals sitting on some icebergs nearby watching us. Before I jumped in I thought ‘do it for the dogs’."

Jumping out after a few seconds, Ms James said her body was red and tingly and, while it was an "extraordinary" experience, she had a headache from the extreme cold for the next few days.

Ms James, who is a retired chartered accountant, is currently studying for a part-time degree in geology.

One the whole, she has described the trip as "magical", with one of her favourite memories seeing a humpback whale appear right next to her zodiac boat during one of the group’s daily outings.

Ms James said she is hoping to raise as much money as possible for the animal charity. With her sight originally set on about £200, she has shot past her target and is currently at £900.

To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-James8