Huge pumpkin wins the prize

Scores of the biggest pumpkins in town faced the scales at the weekend in a charity weigh-off to boost the East Anglia Children's Hospices.

IPSWICH: Scores of the biggest pumpkins in town faced the scales at the weekend in a charity weigh-off to boost the East Anglia Children's Hospices.

A 103kg monster grown by Robert McNay on the Aster Road field took the top honour.

The secret to producing such a large fruit - and pumpkins are officially fruits not vegetables - was simple: “I made sure it was watered and gave it plant food,” he said.

“I've got several water butts which collect water during the winter and I visit the allotment every day so I was able to make sure it stayed in perfect condition.”

Mr McNay, 65, from Jasmine Close has had an allotment at Aster Road for 35 years and is field secretary. He had been growing the pumpkin since March.

“Now I've retired I'm able to spend more time here looking after the allotment. I've grown large pumpkins in the past, up to 80kg, but this is the first time I've ever grown one more than 100kg.”

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He needed a trailer behind his car to carry it to the weigh-in at Ransome's Sports Club in Sidegate Avenue.

The competition is run by the Ipswich Allotment Holders' Association to raise money for the East Anglia's Children's Hospices. This year about 100 pumpkin growers took part.

They give a donation to take part in the weigh-in and there was also a fruit and vegetable stall to raise more money for the hospices.

But Mr McNay's pumpkin was not for sale. He said: “I'm giving it away to someone who's got plans for it at Hallowe'en. I don't know if any of it will actually be eaten!”

The competition has been running five years and organiser John Greenacre hoped this year's event would raise about �1,500.

He said: “We collected �965 on the day but there's quite a bit more to come in yet. This year's crop was good - certainly the winner was larger than last year when the largest was 89kg.”

Is it a record?:

Mr McNay's pumpkin may have been big - but at 103kg it is a tiddler compared with the world record pumpkin which weighed 784kg. It was weighed in Ohio, USA, earlier this month. The British record is 660kg - grown with seeds supplied by Ipswich firm Thompson and Morgan.