Sunday, 29 July 2012


 Word from the bushes was there wouldn't be a world champion at the Goostrey Gooseberry Show after the worst growing season in memory. But dogged dedication paid off for veteran Tom McCartney at Saturday's event at The Crown  - his berry won the village show for the first time since he began competing 64 years ago!
 The premier Montrose berry of 22 pennyweights 16 grains was a tiddler compared to golf ball-sized fruits of other years. Even previous champions like David Heath, last year's winner, and Doug Carter, struggled for top places with berries a little over 21 pennyweights separated by a few whiskers.
 Kelvin Archer, a world champion, held the top spot with a berry of  only 27 pennyweights 4 grains at the Red Lion. Lower Withington - a long way from his biggest ever in excess of 34 pennyweights.
 All together Tom, 88, collected five trophies for his entries, including the award for the heaviest twins in the show. But he was less than cock-a-hoop in victory on the same day as the start of the London olympics. 
 "I am almost ashamed at the size of it. But this year I never expected to have a berry even that weight. The year I won the Swettenham show it was over 30 pennyweights."
 Tom began raising gooseberries in 1948 when the olympic games were last in Britain and even he admitted that perhaps size didn't matter this year after all. "It is just like winning something in the olympics."
 The outcome of the show will be there for the world to see in October. The BBC filmed the event for a new celebrity chef series fronted by James Atherton
David Heath, who has the consolation of  the trophy for presenting the best showplate of berries, said: "I forecast it wouldn't be a good year for weights but I still think it was a very good show. Tom did very well indeed."

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