Conker fanatic fearful of virus destroying his 30-year-old horse chestnut tree

A CONKER fanatic is hoping a virus that is affecting horse chestnut trees across the country doesn’t strike the beloved tree which he planted 30 years ago.

Kevin Rodgers, from Wisbech, is nuts about continuing the tradition of playing conkers and is concerned the bleeding canker virus will ruin the tree that overlooks his property in Clarkson Avenue.

The tree is a vital source of conkers that Mr Rodgers allows competitors to use in Wisbech Lions Club’s annual Wisbech and Fenland Conker Championships that will be held on Friday October 1.

“It’s causing a massive problem and unless something is sorted out with this virus we could really struggle,” he said.

“The tree in front of my property hasn’t been attacked yet but I’m crossing everything to make sure it doesn’t.

“The conkers will ripen in the next week or so and I go around collecting them for the event but many leaves have turned brown because of the virus and as a result conkers are dying.”

There is currently no cure and forestry staff have already felled about 3,000 trees in the UK but expect many more to follow.

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The conker lover admits it’s the biggest threat to the playground game since many schools outlawed the activity due to safety issues.

He said: “It was barmy when conkers were banned in schools and it has deprived many of enjoying playtimes like we used too.

“The ban did however actually encourage people to start playing conkers again. I stopped playing when I was 16 but started again when I turned 50.

“Many of us play it now to go back to our childhood days and have a laugh at each other when we play.”

The adult only event at the Oasis Centre in Wisbech will see Ady Hurrell, a former World Champion from Whittlesey, compete against enthusiasts from all over Fenland.

The �5 entrance-fee goes towards the Lions’ support of charities in the area.

Contact: Kevin Rodgers on 01945 464871.

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