HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has sent his best wishes for a successful World Cabbage Hurling Championships at this year’s Holbeach Town and Country Fayre.
But Prince Philip, who will be 95 on June 10, has declined to enter a team because “this year does not look feasible” with all the summer events for The Queen’s 90th birthday and his own birthday.
Inventor John Ward, co-organiser of the cabbage hurling, still has his fingers crossed that Holbeach will land a celebrity team for the weekend of June 18 and 19.
He’s invited a host of celebrities for the fourth annual championships, but for the moment is keeping tight-lipped about the names on the list.
Last year organisers had Hollywood A-lister Sylvester Stallone in their sights, but somehow the actor who had turned his hand to advertising Warburtons bread slipped through the net.
John told us: “Bearing in mind the global following this event has, in recent years we have strived to invite people of a certain standing – until the straw bales arrive, then they can sit – to enter a three person, adult team into this most prestigious event in the sporting calendar.”
He said BBC Look North anchorman Peter Levy was the only one to respond to an invitation last year and sent “a very nice letter explaining he had a prior arrangement and was unable to attend”.
For the last two years, invitations have been sent to BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans with no response.
But John is appearing at CarFest South, the event launched by the DJ, on August 1 with his Freddie the Reliant Robin fire engine.
John told us: “I will give him (Chris) a nudge when attending to invite him for next year’s event, so there – fair’s fair!”
The tongue-in-cheek invitation to Prince Philip underlined the proximity of Sandringham to Holbeach by describing it as “just up the road from Norfolk, then turn a sharp left at King’s Lynn and we are not far away”.
It continued: “While we would not expect you yourself to take part, due mainly to your height being an advantage in the proceedings of course, but we don’t want the other teams to kick up about it so feel you may wish to enter a team instead of three adults, age eighteen years upwards, male or the other lot of even mixed, under your banner so to speak.”
John also told the Duke about the trebuchet style machines used to hurl cabbages.
Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, private secretary to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, replied to John’s letter, and said –
“Dear Mr Ward,
“The Duke of Edinburgh has asked me to write and thank you for your letter dated 31st March, regarding the forthcoming Cabbage Hurling event in Lincolnshire this June.
“His Royal Highness thanks you for your kind invitation to enter a team this year. Given that it is already mid-April, and as you rightly mention, with all the events this summer for The Queen’s 90th and The Duke of Edinburgh’s 95th birthdays, I fear this year does not look feasible, but your invitation will be borne in mind.
“I hope the Holbeach Town and Country Fayre, and the Cabbage Hurling, are great successes in June for locals alike. Prince Philip sends his best wishes.”
In his invitation letter, John told Prince Philip: “Our motto is ‘cabbages today - coleslaw tomorrow’ as nothing is wasted in the process, plus it’s British grown locally.”
He also sent sincere best wishes to the prince from everyone on the Cabbage Hurling committee.