Al­manac . . . . . . .

Evergreen - - Contents Summer 2015 - Mor­agh Carter

And just what is worm charm­ing, you might ask. Well it’s def­i­nitely noth­ing like snake charm­ing, so let me en­lighten you.

In worm charm­ing, com­peti­tors use their skills to en­tice as many worms as they pos­si­bly can to the sur­face of their al­lo­cated plot. They are then col­lected into a jar and, at the end of the time al­lowed, the worms in each jar are counted and weighed. There are prizes for the most worms col­lected, the heav­i­est worm, the youngest com­peti­tor, and other cat­e­gories.

This an­nual event takes place in Wil­las­ton, near Crewe, Cheshire, on the play­ing fields of Wil­las­ton Pri­mary School. The cham­pi­onships were started in 1980 by the then- deputy head­mas­ter, John Bai­ley, who wrote the orig­i­nal rules for the com­pe­ti­tion. The rules are now avail­able in over 30 dif­fer­ent lan­guages. Each con­tes­tant is given a square plot of grass mea­sur­ing three me­tres by three and, af­ter a five- minute warm- up pe­riod, they are al­lowed 30 min­utes to col­lect their worms. The Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Worm Length Sup­port­ers ( BAWLS) stip­u­lates that all worms must be re­turned to the ground af­ter the con­test.

The most suc­cess­ful method used so far is that of hand vi­brat­ing a four- tine gar­den fork in­serted ap­prox­i­mately six inches into the turf, now known lo­cally in South Cheshire as “twang­ing”. Other meth­ods in­clude play­ing mu­si­cal

in­stru­ments and stamp­ing on the ground, the vi­bra­tions bring­ing the worms to the sur­face as they are tricked into think­ing that rain is fall­ing. Some­one has even tried rid­ing an adapted bi­cy­cle, though how that worked is not known.

Com­peti­tors com­pete for a tro­phy in the shape of a golden ram­pant worm which is awarded to the

per­son charm­ing the most worms from their plot. This ti­tle is held for one year. The com­peti­tor charm­ing the heav­i­est worm holds the sil­ver worm tro­phy for one year.

The first Worm Charm­ing World Record was set in 1980 by Mr. Tom Shuf­fle­botham, who raised 511 worms from his plot. This re­mained un­bro­ken un­til 2009, when 10- yearold So­phie Smith and Mr. Matt Smith charmed an in­cred­i­ble 567 worms from their plot. The heav­i­est worm ever recorded weighed 0.23 of an ounce and was charmed by Mr. J. Over­stall in 1987.

In 2013 the cham­pi­onships were filmed by a BBC cam­era crew for the Blue Peter pro­gramme, which was broad­cast dur­ing the fol­low­ing week. He­len Skel­ton was there as pre­sen­ter and she took part in the con­test, helped by chil­dren from another lo­cal school, Monks Cop­pen­hall Pri­mary School in Crewe. He­len de­lighted the chil­dren by stay­ing be­hind af­ter the com­pe­ti­tion to pose for pic­tures and to sign au­to­graphs.

Sim­i­lar events are held in Devon, in On­tario, and in Sop­choppy, Florida, which claims to be the “Worm Gruntin’ Cap­i­tal of the World”, but Wil­las­ton re­mains the home of the World Cham­pi­onships. This year’s World Worm Charm­ing Cham­pi­onships take place on Satur­day 27th June. For fur­ther de­tails tele­phone 01270 663957 or visit www. worm­charm­ing. com

PETER KING

Com­peti­tors em­ploy all sorts of meth­ods to lure the worms to the sur­face.

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