New record declared at nettle eating championships

The winner of the 2024 World Nettle Eating Championships has set a new record, organisers have said.

More than 30 people, from as far afield as the US and the Netherlands, took part in the prickly contest at the Dorset Nectar Cider Farm, near Bridport, on Saturday.

Tom Wheeler from London ate the leaves from 116ft (35.4m) of nettle stalks to claim the men's trophy, beating last year's tally of 64ft (19.5m).

Defending women's champion Beth Hodges retained her title, consuming 64ft of nettles - beating her own record of 60ft (18.3m), set in 2023.

Ms Hodges, who travelled from Wales, said she was surprised and happy to have won again, although her hands were still painful.

"My voice is also an octave or two deeper and I'm a bit huskier," she said.

"I did really sting the inside of my mouth and your tongue goes a really funny colour but I was concentrating more on the pain in my hands, so I probably forgot about my mouth.

"The dryness is the tricky thing, and chewing them. I think it depends what the weather has been doing - this year they have been a bit hard to chew."

Formerly held at a pub in Bridport, which has since closed, the tradition dating back to the 1980s has been taken over by Ryan Strong at the nearby Dorset Nectar Cider Farm in Waytown.

Nettle stalks are gathered and cut into 2ft (61cm) lengths and contestants are given cider, which they can drink or dip the nettles into to moisten them.

Saturday's event was opened by Bridport Town Crier John Collingwood.

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