Worm-charmers top charity poll

Families and friends take part in the third annual Aspull Worm Charming Championships, where teams try vibration techniques to get worms out of the ground
Families and friends take part in the third annual Aspull Worm Charming Championships, where teams try vibration techniques to get worms out of the ground

One of the borough’s strangest sporting events has made a list of the country’s best fund-raising ideas for churches needing to raise cash.

The Aspull Worm Charming Championships has been named as one of the top 25 ways for congregations to boost funds by church insurer Ecclesiastical.

It is not the first time the insurer has recognised the event held each year on the parish field next to St Elizabeth of Hungary Church as the worm-charming contest won a competition to find the country’s most innovative church fund-raiser last year.

Championships founder Ruth Atherton, who is a member of the fund-raising group Friends of St Elizabeth’s Church, said she is delighted the unusual contest has made such a national impact.

Ruth said: “We’re delighted it has reached the top 25 as it’s really a very simple way of raising money and allows people to have a lot of fun.

“It’s fantastic to get our little idea on the map and we’ve had a really good response from churches who have been in contact with us to find out more.

“We were a bit concerned that churches in more urban environments wouldn’t be able to join in.

“But most churches are linked with a school and they generally have a playground or access to a park.

“You only need a small space to start up.

“We’ve now grown so big we can hopefully help others to raise money for their own projects.”

Participants in the contest have a plot of ground and have to get as many worms out of it as they can in a set time limit, with only vibrations allowed to be used to coax the wriggling creatures above ground.

The most common method for doing so is to put a garden fork in the ground and waggle it backwards and forwards. The practice has long been used by anglers to collect bait but later took off as a rather eccentric sport.

Preparations for this year’s competition, which will take place on June 18, are already well under way and Ruth is hoping for another bumper turn-out.

The list of top 25 fund-raising ideas for churches has been released to coincide with a national week raising awareness of how churches can get together money for projects in their area.

For more information about the contest, search for Aspull Worm Charming Championship on Facebook or visit www.aspullwormcharming.com