Northants woman wins World Conker Championships after 30-year wait
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After a full day of nut-busting action at the Shuckburgh Arms in Southwick, near Oundle, the 54th World Conker Championships crowned its new champions on Sunday.
While top honours in the men’s category went overseas to Canadian Randy Topolnitsky, it was local lady Fee Aylmore who took home the coveted trophy in the women’s competition.
Ms Aylmore, 49, said: "I’m thrilled - it took me over 30 years to get this"
The school nurse, who lives just down the road from Southwick, explained how ‘conkering’ runs strong in her family. Her father, David Jakins, is ‘King Conker’ the ceremonial head-honcho ”who starts proceedings off at the beginning of the competition."
She told the Peterborough Telegraph her dad was "thrilled to bits" that she had won. "He knows how much it means to win because he himself lost in the 2007 final," she said.
Fee said her victory is a vindication of both her love of conkers and her never-say-die outlook: "If you want something, keep going for it - you’ve got to be in it to win it!"
The 2022 World Conker Championships welcomed close to 200 competitors and several thousand spectators. English Civil War re-enactment group Lord Robarte’s Regiment of Foote (Sealed Knot) kicked things off by leading the previous winners on a parade through the village. Town crier and Chelsea Pensioner Roy Palmer announced the tournament open shortly after.
Many competitors did battle in fancy dress, with Harry Potter, D’Artagnan, Spiderman and even a giant beer bottle keeping the crowds entertained. Former champion Stephanie Withall, a professional beekeeper, maintained her own tradition of donning a full-size bee outfit for the day.
Event co-organiser James Packer said the event was “marvellous” and “extremely successful”, describing it as a "fun, family friendly, fete-like atmosphere." The fact that the weather turned out to be “glorious” was, James said, also a huge bonus. “It’s always my chief concern,” he admitted.
The event has been running since 1965, and has raised more than £420,000 for impaired sight charities since its inception.