Just charming! A family from Lancashire has seen off stiff competition to win the 35th International World Worm-Charming championships.
Andy Bowden along with son Dale, 20, and nine-year-old daughter Georgia, from Tarleton, lifted the trophy at Willaston Primary School, in Nantwich, Cheshire, where 144 teams battled it out to charm worms out of the ground.
It is only the second time Andy has been involved in the event, which began life at the school in 1980.
Andy said: “I took part in the competition last year with the Caravan Club and thought I’d get the kids involved.
“When I told Dale about it he didn’t really seem keen and I think he’d have much rather stayed in bed but he loved it in the end.
“It’s a hoot. The noise is something else, as people stamp and clap and use all sorts of musical instruments to get the worms out.”
Teams had come from as far afield as Australia, the Philippines, India and Switzerland to take part in the quirky competition.
Each team is given a three metre by three metre plot and 30 minutes to collect the wiggly creatures.
Techniques included vibrating a garden fork, singing and playing musical instruments to entice the creepy crawlies out of the ground.
And after the bell went, Andy, 48, Dale and Georgia, spurred on by support from mum and wife, Jayne, managed to entice almost 400 worms from the ground.
Andy, a business development manager for Heineken, said: “You’re not allowed to use chemicals, water, or cut the grass on your plot so it’s basically about making as much vibration as you can.”
The gang used a simple pitch fork to make holes in the ground but other teams used cricket stumps with bells on and one chap just sat down in his plot and played his guitar.
An official count declared the Bowden family the winners with 394 worms caught.
The proud winners were even interviewed by a Russian television crew.
Andy said: “Broken worms don’t count, as that’s cruel to the worms.
“But all in all it’s a mere inconvenience to them and after dark they’re put back on the plot they came from so they can make their way home.
“What makes the win even better is that we did it for the charity, Addaction, raising funds to rebuild lives of those affected by addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“And we’re certainly going to be back next year to defend the title.”