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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  8 May 2006

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GIANT PUMPKIN CHALLENGE FOR CHILDREN

CHILDREN in Southport are being challenged to grow a giant pumpkin and help the NSPCC help abused children at the same time.  The Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition has become an institution in the North West with competitors from the small agricultural village and its surrounds using fair means; and occasionally foul; to attempt to grow the heaviest pumpkin.

Last year’s winning pumpkin was a massive 702 lbs and the year before the winner was a staggering 912lb which shattered the UK heaviest pumpkin record. This year the competition organisers are joining forces with the NSPCC and throwing down the gauntlet to children across the country, challenging youngsters to get involved and raise money for the children’s charity at the same time.

Trevor Wilson of Mere Brow, said:- “This is the twelfth annual Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin competition and it promises to be the most competitive yet as we have decided to this year include some prize money to the competition winners." 

People living within a 10 mile radius of Mere Brow can compete for the Mere Brow & District Shield, but anyone can enter the All England Shield competition.

“The variety of pumpkin we encourage people to grow are ‘Atlantic Giants’ and they grow so fast you can virtually watch it happening. Some people take the competition very seriously and keep the location of their pumpkin a closely guarded secret. Giant pumpkin growers will often try all sorts of weird and wonderful techniques to get an edge over their fellow competitors – last year one competitor fed his pumpkin just Guinness directly from the barrel. It didn’t win but it grew well!  This year we decided we wanted to get more children involved. It is fantastic for children because the pumpkins grow so fast it holds their interest and the rate of growth can be almost magical. We contacted the NSPCC because we wanted children to benefit all ways round.”  said Trevor.

Hazel Russell, Community Appeals Manager for the NSPCC in Lancashire, said:- “We are really grateful that the competition organisers thought of the NSPCC. The proceeds will make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children.”

The competition was launched on Monday 24 April at Tarleton High School when pupils planted their pumpkin seeds under the watchful eye of Trevor.

For details of how to enter the competition and tips on growing your pumpkin log on to the competition website at www.MereBrowGiantPumpkins.com or contact Trevor Wilson at Mere Brow Lane, Mere Brow, Tarleton, Preston PR4 6JP.  The entry fee is £5 for each pumpkin entered, a maximum of 2 per person is allowed. The weigh in will take place on Saturday, October 21 at Brandreth Farm, Burscough, near Ormskirk. The pumpkins are not easily transportable and fork lift trucks are required to lift them, but even if getting to the weigh-in is not practical, there is nothing to stop people growing them for fun and to support a good cause.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:- "UK Farm Payments"

"Sir,  In times where farmers' payments depend on their commitment to the environment, it seems to me that we should pay greater attention to those
who lead the way in this area.

Each year, the Farmcare FWAG Silver Lapwing Awards ? the most prestigious awards for farm conservation ? recognise farmers who combine conservation with commercial success on their farms. We can learn a lot from how they do it. I urge all farmers to consider entering this year's Silver Lapwing
awards to have their achievements recognised.

The main Silver Lapwing award rewards the pinnacle of conservation achievement, with winners from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland battling it out for the overall UK Silver Lapwing trophy and prize
money.

Farmers new to conservation can compete for the First Steps Award. For example any farmer who has joined the Entry Level Stewardship scheme in England is eligible to enter this category.

Judging takes place during the summer and the winners will be invited to the prestigious ceremony in London in October.

The closing date for entries is 19th May 2006. Any readers who are interested in entering can download a simple entry form from fwag.org.uk or co-opfarmcare.com."
 Yours faithfully,  Michael Woodhouse, Director of Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group
.

Electoral Commission to evaluate Sefton, Liverpool and Knowsley election pilots

FOLLOWING this years local elections the Electoral Commission has begun an evaluation of the electoral pilot scheme in Sefton. The council has produced a marked list of postal voters for public inspection after the election, a similar list is already produced for polling station voters.

The Commission is asking local electors, candidates, party activists and community groups to share their experiences of the pilot scheme and will publish findings in a report by 4 August 2006.

When evaluating the Sefton, Liverpool and Knowsley pilots the Commission will collect views on the impact of the pilots schemes across a range of issues from the voting experience and elector turnout to electoral administration and the security of the vote.

The Commission is inviting electors in Sefton to give their views by visiting their website and downloading a questionnaire or using the online form. Comments may also be sent by post to The Electoral Modernisation Team, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW1 P 2HW. All comments and completed questionnaires should be submitted by 19 May 2006.

Pilot schemes have taken place in 15 areas across England covering different innovations from early voting in supermarkets and care homes, to electronic counting or signing for ballot papers.

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