AN Egremont pensioner and long-standing allotment holder has been keeping everyone smiling and motivated through lockdown.

Willie Maxwell, 73, came up with the idea of a marrow growing competition earlier this year. He handed out seedlings to his fellow allotment holders at Bridge End and set them the challenge of growing the heaviest marrow.

His idea sowed the seed for lots of lockdown fun and fundraising and brought the green-fingered community together.

Everyone who took part paid £5, which went to North Allerdale Foodbank. A trophy was bought and named The Maxi Marrow Cup.

Colin Fairbairn, 35, took on an allotment in March and has been so impressed by Willie and the camaraderie he has encouraged.

"The event was initially started as a bit of fun whilst raising money for a local charity," he said.

"When lockdown happened, it brought us all together and we had a good laugh, enquiring about each other's marrows.

"There are a whole range of ages but we're all connected by the allotment and enjoy having a joke.

"Lockdown was a very unusual time.

"The allotments meant we were able to get out and we had something to do, while socially distanced."

Willie has had an allotment for 40 years and is well known in town.

He is very involved with Egremont Rugby Union FC, where he works as groundsman, physio and kitman.

"He's always joking around, you would not think he is the age he is," said Colin. "He's a great chap, you can have fun with him and he'd do anything for you."

The competition was won by Roy Redshaw, whose marrow weighed in at an impressive 3.8kg.

Catherine Maxwell, Willie’s wife, presented the trophy to Roy at an event at the clubhouse.

"Unfortunately for Willie, his marrow came in last place, weighing in at 1.9kg!" said Colin, whose marrow came in 4th place.

The competition will be held annually with the winner choosing which local charity should benefit.