A champion pumpkin grower has caused outrage in a Shropshire village after admitting he cheated.
Scandal has hit a Shropshire village after the champion grower of its annual allotment association pumpkin competition claimed he filled his 186-pound prize-winning squash with water to win.
Barry Truss, 57, of Ryton Road, Beckbury, near Shifnal, has won the competition, which is held at the village’s Severn Stars pub in October, for four years in a row and walked away with a trophy and a £50 prize.
At last year’s contest, which is run by Beckbury Allotment Association, judges could scarcely believe the size of the 13-stone pumpkin, and following Mr Truss’s revelation on Saturday they were right to.
Other allotment holders have lost the plot at his cheating, and even accused Mr Truss of sabotaging rival pumpkins.
Mr Truss, a lorry driver, said his deception was uncovered after he was overheard telling a friend in a bar.
He said: “This kind of skulduggery goes on with everybody. I only did it for a bit of fun. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years and won it four years in a row.
“I haven’t cheated any other of the years, I haven’t had to. We’ve all had a bit of a laugh. I’m scuppered now, no-one will believe I haven’t cheated. There’s one thing for sure, I won’t get away with it again.”
Mr Truss’s wife Carol, 56, was an accessory to the swindle after she spent hours rolling the pumpkin around the garden at last October’s contest to empty it of water to stop organisers discovering his attempt to cheat.
“I was on a night out at the time when I heard that the sponsors wanted to pick it up so I phoned Carol and told her to let the water out,” added Mr Truss, who has had his allotment for 30 years. I was scared there would be a tsunami in their kitchen when they cut it open.
“I asked Carol to take the bung out of the bottom then role it around the garden until it was empty.”
Mrs Truss said: “I was rolling a giant pumpkin around the garden for hours, it was making gurgling noises.”
Mick Scriven, allotment association chairman, said today: “He’s an absolute rogue.
“As things stand he is able to take part in future competitions however there will be heightened security, and we might have to invest in some specialised equipment.
“It’s all very tongue in cheek.”
By Paul Mannion