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Gooseberry growing champion claims sabotage as he loses crown after trees ‘poisoned’

The Goostrey Gooseberry Show, which has taken place in the Cheshire countryside for more than 130 years, has seen last Saturday’s event shrouded in controversy. Terry Price, 76, who first entered the contest when he was 18 years old, won last year’s competition for the 11th time. He was given four trees in his teenage years by a friend of his father, and prior to last weekend, had not finished below fourth place for more than 10 years.

This year’s contest at The Crown Inn, located in the farming village of Goostrey, was streamed on Facebook Live stream and reached an impressive 1,000-plus people throughout the world.

But Mr Price has claimed there was a deliberate attempt to destroy his attempts to retain his crown after he found nearly all of his gooseberry trees were killed with a poisonous chemical.

Mr Price, who is also President of the Goostrey Gooseberry Society, alleged the incident happened three months ago and saw him finish in seventh position, destroying all hopes he had of winning the title for a 12th time.

His top fruit in this year’s competition only weighed 28g, just over half of his prize-winning 50g gooseberry from last year’s successful contest.

Last year’s champion raged: “They have been tampered with, there’s no doubt about that.

“I could have cried when I found out because so much work goes into it and then it’s all gone like that.

“They know exactly where my best trees are and that’s what they’ve targeted, which is why this year’s competition has been such a struggle.”

Mr Price discovered the damage to his gooseberry trees in May after quickly noticing his harvest – which he cultivates all year in his back garden – had not reached the high qualities of previous years.

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Martin de Krester said: “Sadly Terry has reported potential sabotage with the spraying of his trees with weed killer.

“Needless to say if this was another gooseberry grower they would be banned for life but I find it hard to believe that someone would do that to Terry.”

This year’s event was won by 69-year-old Chris Jones, who has been growing gooseberries for more than 30 years.

He dedicated his victory at this year’s contest to his late brother Tony, who sadly died from coronavirus.

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