World Conker Championships winner ‘thrilled’ after securing victory
Women’s champion Fee Aylmore and men’s champion Randy Topolnitsky (Joe Giddens/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Joe Giddens

The winners of the 2022 World Conker Championships have been announced, with one saying that she has waited for over 30 years to secure victory.

The event at the Shuckburgh Arms in Southwick, Peterborough, on Sunday, welcomed more than 300 competitors and about 5,000 spectators from across the globe.

After a series of intense games, Fee Aylmore was crowned women’s champion and Randy Topolnitsky, from Calgary in Canada, became men’s champion.

World Conker Championships 2022Fee Aylmore celebrates becoming women’s champion (Joe Giddens/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Joe Giddens

Ms Aylmore, 49, a school nurse who lives a few miles from Southwick, said that she was thrilled.

“If you want something badly enough, keep doing it,” she told the PA news agency.

“It took me 31 years of playing but eventually I won this year and I am totally thrilled.”

The art of conkering runs in her family, as her father, David Jakins, who is also known as King Conker, “is the chap who officially starts the championships off”.

World Conker Championships 2022The annual World Conker Championships (Joe Giddens/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Joe Giddens

She added that he was “super pleased” to find out that she won.

“Finally, all his efforts of teaching me how to play paid off.”

James Packer, chairman of the World Conker Championships, who lives in Coalville, Leicestershire, said: “The women’s champion has been trying to win it for over 30 years – she’s finally managed to achieve that today.

“The men’s champion is from Calgary, Canada – it’s one of the few times the trophy has been taken abroad.”

He added that seeing people at the event has been “tremendous”.

“It’s been a very friendly, fun, family afternoon.”

No costume was off limits for competitors, with Stephanie Withall, a previous champion, wearing a bee outfit to pay homage to her job as a beekeeper.

There was also an Elvis lookalike, a Spider-Man, and a competitor dressed as a beer bottle – who appeared to be having lots of fun taking on her rivals at the event.

World Conker Championships 2022A competitor dressed as Elvis takes part (Joe Giddens/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Joe Giddens

Chelsea Pensioners got in on the action too, with one, Phil Watkins, 75, eyeing up his target to achieve the best shot possible, while others had big grins on their faces as the competition got into full swing.

All competitors need to follow a stringent set of rules to ensure the event is as fair as possible, which includes the conkers and laces used being provided by organisers, while laces cannot be knotted further or distorted.

Additionally, a minimum distance of no less than 20cm of lace must be between knuckle and nut for both the “striking” and “receiving” players.

Organisers added that conkers are drawn “blind” from a bag, with players being allowed to reject up to three conkers.

World Conker Championships 2022Chelsea pensioner Phil Watkins, 75, takes part (Joe Giddens/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Joe Giddens

To win, the opponent’s conker needs to be smashed and if both are broken at the same time, new conkers will be drawn.

Further rules apply if a game lasts more than five minutes and penalties can also be given for foul play.

Aside from the fun people have at the event, the main aim of the championships is to support charities helping the visually impaired.

Since the event’s inception in 1965, a total of £420,000 has been raised.

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