What a smashing pumpkin

Blackhall Navy Club member and gardner Keith Davison with his winning pumpkin which weighed in at 105.5lbs. Picture by FRANK REID

Blackhall Navy Club member and gardner Keith Davison with his winning pumpkin which weighed in at 105.5lbs. Picture by FRANK REID

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A GARDENER has done the double and smashed his previous record in a charity pumpkin-growing competition.

Keith Davison grew this 3ft-high pumpkin, which weighed a whopping seven-and-a-half stone (105lb), in the annual competition held in the run up to Halloween.

The massive vegetable won Blackhall Navy Club’s third annual pumpkin competition and raked in an impressive £774.50 for the Hartlepool Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Keith, a 49-year-old builder from Blackhall’s Shaftesbury Avenue, appeared in the Hartlepool Mail in 2009 when he scooped the top prize.

His latest pumpkin dwarfs his previous entry which was 70.5lbs and 2ft-tall.

Keith, who is married to Lorraine and dad to Craig, 19, and 18-year-old Hannah, said: “The secret is to give it just water and no food.

“I’m over the moon – it gets bigger and better every year.

“I hope the competition continues. We had a great day on the day of the competition – the club itself took £3,000 in takings.

“The sponsorship money has gone towards some life-jackets for the RNLI.

“The fishing club at the Navy Club has great links with the RNLI.”

Keith, who won £100 for his efforts, said last year’s winning entry, from Steve Graham, weighed 77lbs.

There were 40 entrants in this year’s competition, with each gardener being sponsored to enter.

Glen Fallow, chairman of the Pumpkin Club, said most of the pumpkins are grown in Blackhall Colliery allotments from around early May.

He said the nearest rival to Keith’s entry weighed 52lb.

He added: “My entry was a reject, it was only 2lb and didn’t germinate.

“Everybody safeguards their growing secrets.

“The Navy Club has a fishing club and people have needed the RNLI themselves when they have been towed back.

“They do a great job.”

Mr Fallow added that around 150 people packed into the East Street-based club to watch the outcome of the competition.

The winning pumpkin will be given to local children to use at Halloween.

Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat operations manager Mike Craddy said: “The club has supported us for a number of years now, it’s brilliant.

“We are eternally grateful for these contributions that come from the community and I think this was a brilliant way of raising funds.”