Glorious weather brought over 24,000 visitors flocking to the 55th British National Ploughing Championships at Soham in Cambridgeshire on October 8th and 9th, to see Britain's leading ploughmen in action. And the quality of the ploughing matched the weather. John Hill won the 2005 British National Conventional Ploughing Championship, and Simon Witty took the British National Reversible Ploughing title.
Having cruised to victory in his class on the first day, the other ploughmen struggled to keep up with the current World Reversible Champion, Simon Witty. His score of 304 points in the final plough off was enough to put him well clear of the rest of the field. Runner up was Stewart Bunting from Norfolk with 267 points and 3rd place went to Andrew Rutherford from Cumbria with 263 points.
The Conventional Ploughing Championship was the twelfth national championship title for John Hill whose quest for the World Conventional Ploughing Championship has so far always eluded him, although he is a former triple world reversible ploughing champion. John's score of 258 points ensured a comfortable victory over fellow Yorkshiremen, James Witty who finished second on 241 points and third place Geoff Fretwell from Penistone with 236 points.
John Hill, who farms at Hoylandswaine near Sheffield, South Yorkshire and Simon Witty from East Lutton, near Malton, North Yorkshire will now plough for England at the 2006 World Ploughing Contest at Tullow, Co Carlow, Republic of Ireland. Both men are relishing next year's challenge, Simon especially who would like to take the World reversible title for the third year in a row.
In the horse ploughing classes, Jim Elliott from Co Durham trounced the opposition to earn the title of Champion Horse Ploughman. His aggregate total of 458 points for the two days of the competition put the result well out of reach of all the other competitors. Jim has been ploughing since the age of 12 and the two first prizes he won over the two days, made a total of 30 first prizes at the National Ploughing Championships, with a total of 200 in all.
Next year's England Vintage Ploughing team in the European Championships will be John Milnes from Penistone, South Yorkshire and Richard Ingram from Tamworth, Staffordshire. John's 247 points was just enough to win him the championship for trailing ploughs from Raymond Alderson with 244 points. Runner up behind the hydraulic winner, Richard, was Michael Armitage from Peterborough with 238 points.
Speaking after the final plough offs, a delighted Ken Chappell, Executive Director of the Society of Ploughmen, the Championships' organisers said: “East Fen Farm has been a perfect venue. We are especially grateful to our hosts, Mr and Mrs Eric Day, for allowing us to use their land and for the very warm welcome they gave us. The weather has been on our side and the help and co-operation from the local organising committee and everyone on the farm has been exceptional. The people of Soham and the surrounding area have been tremendous making visitors and all those involved in the Championships very welcome.”
Next year the Championships move south again, this time to the Loseley Park Estate at Guildford in Surrey.
The British National Ploughing Championships are sponsored by National Grid, Total Butler, Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone.
Britain's Top Ploughmen Going For Gold In Warm Up To The British National Ploughing Championships