The Worm Charming event was first devised by Mr John Bailey who was the deputy headmaster of Willaston County Primary School, Nantwich, Cheshire from 1961 to 1983.
It was designed as a fund raising event incorporated into our School Fete in 1980.
The Rules were compiled by John Bailey in 1980 but over the years the size of plots has been increased from three yards square to three metres square to bring us in line with EEC requirements.
We have also increased the number of squares from 100 to 144 to accommodate additional competitors who compete on behalf of various charities.
The first Worm Charming World Record was set in 1980 by Mr Tom Shufflebotham who raised 511 worms from a three yards square plot. This remained unbroken until 2009 when Miss S and Mr M Smith charmed an incredible 567 worms from their plot!
Competitors compete for a trophy in the shape of a golden rampant worm which is awarded to the person charming the most worms from their plot in thirty minutes. The title is held for one year.
The competitor charming the heaviest worm holds the silver worm trophy for one year. The heaviest worm recorded weighed 6.6grams and was charmed by Mr J. Overstall in 1987.
Rules are available in over thirty different languages and the organisers are always interested in adding to this total.
Because of fierce local competition and all year round training by worm charming fanatics, the trophy had never left the village of Willaston until, in 1996, father and son team Phil and David Williams from Wiltshire won the competition with a total of 157 worms. Willaston managed to forgive the Willliams team, however, when it was revealed that they had lived in Willaston for a number of years prior to winning the title and were still Willastonians at heart.
There had not been a tie-break situation at the end of the allotted 30-minute Charming time until 2003 when Richard and Rodney Windsor (Plot 131) and Lea Clark and Robert Oltram (Plot 134) each raised 167 worms from the ground. A further five minutes Charm Off was held in accordance with Rule 17 after which Richard and Rodney Windsor were declared Champions having raised a further 14 worms, beating their rivals by just one worm.
The most succesful method used so far is that of hand vibrating a four tyne garden fork inserted approximately 15cms into the turf, now known locally in South Cheshire as ‘twanging’.