Millie conkers all the competition to scoop top prize

Former competition champions (left) Louis Barrett (13) and sister Millie Barrett (14) prepare themselves for battle.   Annual conker competition at Holly Hill Woodland Park, Sarisbury Green.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (113567-921)
Former competition champions (left) Louis Barrett (13) and sister Millie Barrett (14) prepare themselves for battle. Annual conker competition at Holly Hill Woodland Park, Sarisbury Green. Picture: Allan Hutchings (113567-921)
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IT’S a traditional game dating back generations and this weekend families gathered to see who would conker the rest.

The eighth annual conker championship took place at Holly Hill woodland park near Sarisbury Green, Fareham.

From the young to the old, people of all ages took on the classic game in a battle in the woods on Saturday.

Last year, the competition couldn’t go ahead as there were not enough conkers due to an infection in the trees.

But this year it returned and teenager Millie Barrett, from Milton in Portsmouth, was crowned the champion and given a trophy.

The 14-year-old, who also won in 2005, said: ‘It’s a great feeling to win. I come every year. I enjoy it.

‘It’s a good way to come together and have a good day. I love it.’

And how did she win? ‘You play fairly. You need to practice and have a steady hand,’ she said.

Simon Batten, a member of the Friends of Holly Hill and umpire of the competition, said: ‘We were pleased to have it back. We had a good turnout. It was a healthy competition and a great family event.

‘I did it as a child. It’s important that we try to maintain it for as long as we can. We would certainly go for it again next year.’

In total, 33 people took part in rounds on the contest until a final match, which was won by Millie.

Councillor David Swanbrow, who is a member of the Friends of Holly Hill, was a judge.

‘It’s great fun, he said. ‘It’s been going a few years now. It’s a great use for the park.

‘It’s great to have the kids playing a game that’s been going for an awfully long time.

‘It’s nice to keep these things alive.’

Claire Thomas, 32, from Whiteley took her family to the championship.

She said: ‘It’s a very well run event and it’s good for the kids.

‘It’s good as it brings back a bit of history.’

Lorraine Fox, 49, from Catisfield, also went along.

She said: ‘It’s a great idea. We had never seen it here before.

‘It’s a good thing because I thought that people didn’t play conkers any more.

‘It’s a bit of fun for them. They are enjoying themselves.’