Sad passing of village fete pumpkin plot prankster

His prize-winning pumped-up pumpkin became a national sensation, but now Barry Truss has passed on – fittingly at Halloween – and one last secret has been revealed.

Barry with his (legitimate) 486lb effort from 2014.
Barry with his (legitimate) 486lb effort from 2014.

Remember those epic carrots of his which won first prize at the village fete? We'll come on to those.

"My dad was a legend. He was a one-in-a-million man. I'm very proud to call him my dad," said son Ian.

Barry, who would have been 67 on November 10, died suddenly at his home in Beckbury, the village in which his legacy was of scandal and smiles after his famous 2010 victory in Beckbury Allotment Association's competition for the heaviest pumpkin.

His was a monster at 186lbs and took the trophy and £50 prize.

"He walked around the allotment and saw his was not as big as the others... so decided to alter it slightly," said Ian.

"He filled it with water. But he got found out when he discussed it with a friend in the pub and one of the allotment association overheard."

Ian said when his dad discovered they were coming round to check his pumpkin he rang wife Carol to ask her to pull out the bung to let the water out, but it was to no avail and he was disqualified and returned the prize money.

The tale made national headlines.

"My dad was full of laughs and jokes. That's how he was."

Barry, Carol, and Millie after he was rumbled.

Despite the fuss at the time, there appear to have been no lasting ill feelings from fellow villagers.

"They have been absolutely brilliant. There was no animosity. Everybody took it on the chin and had a laugh. He was a lovable rogue, a kind-hearted man who would do anything for anybody. He wouldn't do anything in nastiness, it was all just a bit of fun."

As for those carrots, his own efforts didn't look right when he dug them up from the allotment on the day of the competition, being all misshapen.

"So he took the dog for a walk up the farmer's field up the road and dug up some of the farmer's carrots. They were straight and good looking, so he put them in the competition and won first prize."

Barry's vegetables also won a host of prizes legitimately, and he returned to competition triumphantly after the rumpus. His 2011 pumpkin – which was carefully checked by the judges – was 18lbs heavier than his nearest rivals and took first prize.

And in 2014 he grew one which weighed in at a massive 486lbs.

"He had all his seeds come in from America."

His funeral is at 2pm on November 27 at Beckbury church, and as he is taken into the church he will pass some pumpkins specially laid on the steps into the building, together with a watering can.

"My dad never wanted a sad funeral. He wanted it to celebrate his life."

He leaves widow Carol, children Ian, Katie Astley, and Amy Ward, and four grandchildren.

Brought up in Beckbury, he went to the village school and then BRJ Roman Catholic College in Wellington, and on leaving aged 15 worked on a local farm, before becoming a lorry driver, working for Avara Foods in Telford.

He had a big allotment in the village.

Ian, who is from Claverley, said: "He would bunch up the vegetables and would put them and some eggs in an honesty box outside the house – everybody laughed about the honesty box.

"He still had the allotment. It had been his dad's, and he carried on the tradition of keeping the allotment going. Me, my mum, and my two sisters are going to carry on with it in his memory."

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