Graeme defends his gooseberry title

Gooseberry Show champion of 2018, Graeme Watson.
Gooseberry Show champion of 2018, Graeme Watson.

As they have been doing for more than two centuries, gooseberry growers gathered in Egton Bridge on Tuesday for the annual show.

The 218th annual Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show took place at St Hedda’s School, Egton Bridge with a good crowd enjoying the warm sun and show of berries.

The Eskuleles perform at the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show.

The Eskuleles perform at the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show.

Weather conditions this year have been challenging with the wet spring followed by the prolonged dry spell.

There were the usual tales of potential winners that burst and future record holders eaten by wasps. In the end, the turnout of berries was excellent, and competition was keenly fought.

This year’s proceedings were also recorded by two visiting film crews, one from the BBC making a documentary following a year in a life of the North York Moors and a Chinese crew making a documentary called Legend of Fruits.

The show was also graced by the presence of 12 members of the Skillinge Gooseberry Society from Sweden.

The Gooseberry Show at St Hedda's RC School. Egton Bridge..Brian Nellist checks out the Gooseberrys at the show..7th August 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

The Gooseberry Show at St Hedda's RC School. Egton Bridge..Brian Nellist checks out the Gooseberrys at the show..7th August 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

More than 25 years ago their chairperson, Berit Åkesson, saw a small glimpse of the show on the BBC and was so fascinated that a new gooseberry show was born and 2018 saw the Skillinge Krusbärsfestival celebrate its tenth anniversary with a visit to its inspiration.

The 2018 show again saw some close competition but in the end the clear winner was the eight-time defending champion, Graeme Watson of Ainthorpe.

Graeme became a nine-time champion, with six in a row, by winning the Harland Trophy for heaviest berry with a yellow Woodpecker weighing 32 drams, 21 grains (58g or just over 2 ounces).

In the competition for the Champion Grower, points are awarded for the first ten places in the six main categories, these being the four colours of single berries, twins and the heaviest twelve.

BBC crews film the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show.

BBC crews film the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show.

Graeme achieved a near perfect score, missing a maximum by just a single point.

The elusive gooseberry maximum will remain unclaimed for another year.

Society rules are configured to spread the prizes as fairly as possible so although Graeme won three of the four colours he could only be awarded one of the prizes.

The 2019 show will be held on the first Tuesday in August and new members are always welcome. Anybody interested in join the oldest gooseberry society in the world should contact the secretary on 01947 895240 or enquiries@egtongooseberryshow.org.uk

The Gooseberry Show at St Hedda's RC School. Egton Bridge..7th August 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

The Gooseberry Show at St Hedda's RC School. Egton Bridge..7th August 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Results

Champion Berry (R Harland Challenge Cup) – G Watson, Woodpecker, 32 Drams, 21 Grains

Yellow Berries: 1st - G Watson, Woodpecker, 32 Drams, 21 Grains; 2nd – P Fishpool, Woodpecker, 27 Drams, 24 Grains; 3rd – J Charlesworth, Millennium, 23 Drams, 18 Grains

Red Berries: 1st – TW Legg, Lord Derby, 23 Drams, 10 Grains; 2nd – N Pickering, Just Betty, 21 Drams, 26 Grains; 3rd – TR Willis, Blackden Gem, 20 Drams, 22 Grains

Green Berries: 1st – M Hart, Surprise, 21 Drams, 2 Grains; 2nd – C Gray, Surprise, 20 Drams, 26 Grains; 3rd – S Mann, Surprise, 19 Drams, 12 Grains

White Berries: 1st – RB Potter, Belmarsh, 29 Drams, 15 Grains; 2nd – JA Leng, Belmarsh, 26 Drams, 10 Grains; 3rd – B Nellist, Belmarsh, 25 Drams, 25 Grains

Maiden Prize (Dr & Mrs Hyatt Rose Bowl): 1st – T Price, Belmarsh (White), 21 Drams, 5 Grains; 2nd – S Mann, Surprise (Green), 19 Drams, 12 Grains; 3rd – M de Krester, Belmarsh (White), 18 Drams, 9 Grains

Best Beaten Berry: HH Kaye, Woodpecker (yellow), 22 Drams, 25 Grains

Heaviest Twins (TW Ventress Plate): 1st – G Watson, Newton Wonder (white), 45 Drams, 15 Grains; 2nd – RB Potter, Blackden Gem (red), 42 Drams, 19 Grains; 3rd – JA Leng, Belmarsh (white), 40 Drams, 21 Grains

Maiden Twins (Miss May Novice Cup): 1st – T Price, Belmarsh (white), 25 Drams, 19 Grains; 2nd – M de Krester, Blackden Gem (red), 24 Drams, 3 Grains; 3rd – K Coulman, Surprise (green), 20 Drams, 22 Grains

Heaviest 12 (J E Raw Trophy): 1st - G Watson, 21 Oz, 2 Drams, 25 Grains; 2nd – RB Potter, 18 Oz, 7 Drams, 14 Grains; 3rd – JA Leng, 18 Oz, 2 Drams, 24 Grains

Heaviest 6 (H Welford Cup): 1st – B Nellist, 9 Oz, 4 Drams, 8 Grains; 2nd – P Fishpool, 8 Oz, 12 Drams, 9 Grains; 3rd – TW Legg, 8 Oz, 7 Drams, 7 Grains

Maiden 6 (J Spenceley Cup): T Price, 7 Oz, 2 Drams, 3 Grains

Four Colours (RD Swales Memorial Cup): J Hart, 4 Oz, 13 Drams, 15 Grains

Champion Grower (W Graham Challenge Cup): 1st – G Watson, 59 points out of 60 (new society record); Joint 2nd – RB Potter and JA Leng, 47 pointsa