A NEW record was set at a quirky West Dorset event with dozens of contestants scoffing nettles.

A big crowd at The Bottle Inn, Marshwood, watched a new record being set at the world nettle eating championships which are held at the pub every summer.

Competitors have to eat as many two feet stalks of nettles as possible in one hour and this year's winner was 48-year-old Phil Thorne from Colyton in Devon who consumed 80 feet of nettles beating the previous record of 76 feet set by Simon Slee 13 years ago.

Simon was among the spectators and congratulated Phil on his achievement.
He said:  "I am delighted to see my record broken."

Phil, who works as a chef for Waitrose at Sidmouth, was presented with a cup donated by Otter Brewery.  It was the first time that he had entered the nettle eating championships.

The runner-up was Pete Wellman, who was bidding for his third victory in a row.  He even exceeded his winning total of last year by two feet by consuming 62 feet but was well beaten by the determination of Phil.  Pete very generously came to the rostrum to congratulate Steve on his achievement.

The cup for the leading lady was won by Claire Brown, a 23-year-old teacher from Chard in Somerset.  She managed to eat 46 feet of nettles in the allotted time which was more than double the amount achieved by last year's winner of this prize.

Local farmer, Dave Hutchings, had taken on the task of cutting the thousands of stalks of nettles which were consumed by the competitors at the event on Saturday, June 7.

The event coincided with a three day beer and cider festival organised by The Bottle's landlords, Nigel and Chrissy Blake.

Most of the beers were from local breweries, including two from Marshwood's own brewery, Gyle 59.

Jon Hosking set up the brewery on the Sadborow Estate last year and his IPA has been voted one of the best beers of 2014 by members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in West Dorset.  He was presented with his award immediately before the nettle eating championships.

Mr Hosking's brewster is Emma Turner, who lives in Marshwood and is secretary of the Marshwood Community Land Trust (CLT) which is aiming to get affordable housing built in the village.

Earlier this year The Bottle was chosen by CAMRA as West Dorset's pub of the year.