Gallery: Pickers dress up for Tiptree’s annual Strawberry Race


- Credit: Archant

Around a hundred people showed off their fruit-picking prowess and also raised more than £2,000 for charity at Tiptree’s annual Strawberry Race yesterday.

The colourful event, where competitors are encouraged to wear fancy dress and decorative hats, challenges pickers working on the 900-acre estate of famous jam maker Wilkin & Sons to harvest as many strawberries as they can in an hour. Among the prizes on offer were those for the fastest picker, the best hat and the most flamboyant picker.

This is the seventh year the event has been held and features farm workers as well as local people. Money for a good cause is raised by Wilikn & Sons pledging a percentage of the value of the picked fruit to charity. This year the money went to Essex Air Ambulance with friend of the charity, TV actor Graham Cole, making a guest appearance to hand out prizes.

According to joint managing director at Wilkin & Sons, Ian Thurgood, the race has several benefits.

He said: “Not only does it raise money for charity, it also gives the pickers a break and a bit of fun from what is very hard work.

“The strawberries that are picked for the race are called Little Scarlets - they are tiny, berry-like fruit which hail from America. “Because we held the event on July 4 Independence Day this year we decided to have an American theme for the fancy dress.

Mr Thurgood said his company’s records, which stretch back to the 1930s, show that this is the latest point in the year that the Little Scarlets have ever been picked. The race is normally held on the third Thursday in June but it had to be postponed this time round because of the cold start to the year.

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He added: “But the cold spring and the slow ripening may well produce fruit of exceptional flavour - they look great just now.

“The fruit doesn’t keep very long, so if it not made into jam today, it will be tomorrow morning. That’s the advantage of having the farm right next to the factory.”