Onion champ has a spring in his step

Michael Ware & his prize winning onion
Michael Ware & his prize winning onion

Michael Ware knows his onions but almost found himself in a pickle when his two best efforts were stolen the day before judging.

Luckily there were no tears as he still managed to bag top spot at Whitby Rifle Club’s annual Onion Society competition – for the first time in 42 years of entering.

If I had been second, I would have been well cheesed off

Michael Ware

A founder member of the society, Michael feared he was dicing with second place when he went to his allotment to check on the Kelsea type of onion and the biggest two were missing.

He had to enter another one which, weighing in at just short of 5lbs, was still enough to take the coveted Rose Bowl trophy.

He said: “I was quite surprised that I won this year especially as I had some better ones that were stolen.

“I went to my garden on the Monday and checked them, I went back three or four days later and there were two missing and the day after was the show.

“I had put in nine or ten plants so I had others to pick from and still managed but if I had been second I would have been well cheesed off.

“I have grown bigger ones but always been beaten.”

Michael was one of 12 members who started the Rifle Club Onion Society after seeing another club grow leeks.

In the 1980s he said the club was increasingly popular with over 40 members but now it has dwindled to around half that even though there is a surge in people growing their own fruit and vegetables at home.

At his home at Dene Hall, Littlebeck, Michael grows leeks pumpkins and tomatoes but is keeping his growing tips secret.

He added: “I retired last year so have spent a bit more time on the garden and moved the onions to another bed with more sun.

“Once they are in the ground the rules are you can do what you want to them - use manure, nitrates potash. I did put something on mine but it is a secret for this year.”