GALLERY: Competitors who know their Ps and Qs and queue gracefully for their peas take on the world
PUBLISHED: 16:04 15 July 2013 | UPDATED: 17:31 15 July 2013
THE ever so polite world championships where competitors know their Ps and Qs and queue gracefully for their peas took part in Witcham on Saturday.
This was the venue for the world pea shooting championships which have been a feature of village life since 1971 –the same year Arsenal won the FA Cup, Maggie Thatcher proposed school milk abolition and Harvey Smith made his famous V sign.
From far and wide the competitors came armed with their knowledge of blowpipes and officially sanctioned peas as part of fastidious but eminently sensible rules.
The John Tyson Shield, awarded to the winner, was won for the second consecutive year by Rob Bresler. His prowess might have been honed in the pea shooting battlefields of Europe but more likely at his Ely home, a six mile drive from Witcham.
Into second place strode Toby Bush whilst the women’s title for 2013 has gone to Helen Phillips.
Four time champion Ian Ashmeade missed a podium finish but had been most useful to casual observers in offering background to this most ancient of country sports.
“It’s a very serious and skilful sport, and a hard-fought battle,” he said.
He told the BBC how stringent rules are followed by competitors, including using only maple or pigeon peas provided on the day.
“I use a special ‘monopod’ to help with my balance,” he said. “It’s actually just a stick from the orchard, and sadly this year it seems to have a bit of woodworm.
“I have got a pea-green laser, though, so I hope that will up my chances of victory.”
Mr Ashmeade described the village hall which benefits from these annual championships as being known locally as the ‘Cathedral of the Pea’. This year’s event added a most reverential £2,102 to the coffers.
Committee member John Wells said: “The pea shoot raised a fantastic sum and thanks to all who ran stalls, served teas, ice cream, beers etc.
“And all who helped set it up and take it down but most of all thanks to all who attended took part and spent some money.”
He said particular thanks should go to the White Horse for supporting the village by selling peas and shooters “and providing target practice and £1 for every pint of JHB sold in the pub on the day.”