National Vegetable Society Championships 2002
24th Oct 2002
The National Vegetable Society Championships were this year hosted by the Malvern show and not only were we blessed with some outstanding exhibits, the whole weekend turned out to be blessed by marvellous weather as well.
Chris Hewlett and Bob Brown
Chris Hewlett and Bob Brown live next door to each other in Broughton Hampshire and it was lovely to see them both winning at the highest level. They have been knocking on the door at the National with celery for a couple of years and this time the door did open for Chris.
The set of three Red Star F1 hybrid celery that was the biggest and heaviest that I have ever seen staged, it measured over 18 inches in circumference. Bob was second to him with another of my new crosses called Evening Star, both entries were exceptional and it must have been close for first place between them. Within the same marquee, just across the isle, the Malvern show was also held and there the positions were reversed, Bob coming first with Evening Star and Chris second with Red Star.
This must have been a truly remarkable show for Bob because it must have taken a lot of inward strength to accomplish such a feat, you see Bob suffers from Becker Muscular Dystrophy and can only stay on his feet for a very short time and now moves along on his mobile electric invalid car. Both of them are such close friends that Chris does all the grafting for both of them while Bob is able to carry out some of the more routine type work during the day while Chris is at work
It's fantastic to see youngsters coming in to vegetable growing and even more heartening when they not only win, but effectively demolish the opposition. At 31 years of age Andrew Jones from Oswestry has had a wonderful season winning again with a superb dish of Stenner Runner Beans which the Maestro himself, the late Brython Stenner, would have been ecstatic about. Andrew grew these inside a polytunnel specifically for this show. Andrew won a few place cards as well which enabled him to win the Cecil Smith Silver Salver for the exhibitor gaining the most points excluding class 1, the Collection of six kinds.
The above collection was won by John Branham staging what was probably his best collection of all times. The following were the varieties used - Celery Evening star, leeks Peter Clark, Onions Kelsae, Carrots New Red Intermediate, parsnips Gladiator and Potatoes Winston. Johns" collection also won the NVS Silver Jubilee Trophy and Silver Medal for the most meritorious exhibit in the show, he also won the Banksian medal for the exhibitor winning the most prize money.
Jim Finn is a giant of a man, an ex Tug of war anchor man at the highest level, however he must also be a very gentle man to handle probably the most delicate of dishes, French beans. He won this class from a huge entry with the variety re selected Prince which were all grown singly in 6 inch pots. They are ready for picking ten weeks from sowing and Jim regularly removes any bendy, twisted or malformed pods as they develop.
Charlie Maisey is always a danger with cucumbers and this show was no exception, when he won the class for three cucumbers with a brand new variety called 'Naomi' this will be featured in my new 2003 catalogue which is now available.
Gareth Cameron from Frizington Cumbria had a rewarding journey down winning the pot leek class with a clean Uniform pair, he also won a few place card which put him second to Andrew Jones for the most points.
Jim Williams, the Scottish Branch Chairman, travelled even further, from Pathead in Midlothian to win the Mini Collection of three kinds of 20 pointed vegetables, two of each kind with Kelsae onions, Virgin Cauliflower and Welsh seedling (Holden Selection) Blanch leek.
The long carrot class had twenty entries and though I probably had the heaviest set there it certainly wasn"t the best, it was only awarded fifth with Gerald Treweek once again completing a marvellous year with his own selection of New Red Intermediate.
Jack Arrowsmith from Brecon is the master at growing parsnips and this show proved it to be so once again. His five Gladiator were as good as any five he has ever staged, they were whiter than any on the bench with a fabulous skin finish.
Peter Clark hasn't had the best of seasons, but you can never underestimate him and he came back strongly to win the class for five coloured potatoes with the variety Kestrel.While Trevor Last won the class for five potatoes with Winston.
Other winners were - Large Onions H V Throup, Large Shallots Miss S Mcdonald, Peas J Simpson, Tomatoes A Roe, Onions up to 1.5kg E Craik, Pickling Shallots R G Sale, Blanch Leeks D Aldred, Stump Rooted Carrots Derek Price, Onions under 250grm R Jackson, Cauliflowers A Hopkins, Long Beetroot R Lind.