World Pie Eating Championship boss asks PM to allow event to go ahead

The organiser of Wigan’s famous World Pie-Eating Championships has written to the Prime Minister urging him to give special permission for them to be held, despite Covid restrictions.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 2:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 3:02 pm

The organiser of Wigan’s famous World Pie-Eating Championships has written to the Prime Minister urging him to give special permission for them to be held, despite Covid restrictions.

Tony Callaghan’s cheeky appeal to Boris Johnson includes identifying the traditional munch-down at Harry’s Bar as an “elite sport” and also points out that it also involves the consumption of a substantial meal.

He offers to hold it outdoors in a car park, but that the competitors can be exempted from wearing masks.

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Tony Callaghan

The championships have for years attracted global coverage, the 2019 victor Ian Gerrard wolfing down a meat and prater pie in 35.4 seconds at the Wallgate venue.

It has also become a humorous pre-Christmas treat, usually shrouded in mock controversy about the provenance, size, temperature or constituent parts of the pastries in question.

Anyone can enter and it simply involves a race to see how quickly one pie can be downed - rather than how many can be consumed in a set time, as is the case in more gluttonous and paler imitation contests.

Mr Callaghan, who runs the InnTheBar chain which includes the Fifteens outlets as well as Harry’s Bar, had already temporarily shut all his businesses before the national lockdown and complained in earnest that the hospitality industry had been unfairly targeted by restrictions when those scrupulously following social distancing and sanitisation measures had far safer establishments than many schools and supermarkets.

The 2019 champion Ian Gerrard

But the letter for No 10 has more of gallows humour about it. It reads:

“Dear Mr Right Honourable Prime Minister.

"As you are no doubt aware, Harry’s Bar in Wigan hosts the annual World Pie Eating Championships at Pie Noon on or around December 16.

"We are applying for special dispensation to hold it this year on the grounds that the event should be classified as an elite sport, but also involves consumption of a substantial meal. Well, maybe not on the grounds itself because of the tier thing and we’re shut, but we might see if we can use Wallgate car park.

""We cannot do this by Zoom because the buggers will all cheat. Also, some think Zoom is a nightclub in Bolton, so they will be confused.

We would also request that competitors are allowed to be exemptioned from wearing a face mask during the contest.

"With Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas.

Yours sincerely.”

Mr Callaghan said that no reply had thus far been forthcoming. Not expecting a positive response, he said that the championships would probably be rescheduled for when it is safer to do so.

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