Walberswick: Famous crabbing competition is called off

A FAMOUS crabbing competition on the Suffolk coast will not take place this year – because the event has become too popular.

Organisers of the British Open Crabbing Championships at Walberswick, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, said safety of the large crowds had become a concern.

They said the current size of the event had raised a number of issues, including health and safety concerns, the huge organisational workload and the impact on the village.

But they were quick to stress the event still had a future and they would soon be deciding how to stage the event in coming years.

The event has grown from humble beginnings 30 years ago into a huge competition which 20,000 people have taken part in.

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Robin Buncombe, from British Crabbing Federation, said the increasing popularity of the event had put pressure on the organisers, and “the stability of the local environment and infrastructure”.

“It would be wrong for the federation not to take the opportunity – after 30 years – to step back and undertake a major review of the staging and future of the event,” he said.

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“There will therefore not be a 2011 British Open Crabbing Championship. (This is) a decision not made lightly for we, the organisers, are all too well aware of the disappointments that may ensue and of the proceeds that may be lost.

“The review will be undertaken by listening to people and communities. The future will be dictated by what our many friends feel is right.”

The event dates back to 1981, when Walberswick Youth Club was asked to raise money for the then Blythburgh Hospital. The idea was raised of a crabbing competition, which proved so popular it grew in size every year, way beyond the expectation of its organisers.

Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for charities – proceeds from last year went to EACH’s Treehouse Appeal – while the event has remained true to the original intention of a fun family day out at modest cost.

Competitors have battled it out for the title of British Open Crabbing Champion while every entrant has received a pot of Shippam’s crab paste.

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