Grand Slam Conker Challenge at Wellington Prep School

Senior School Headmaster Henry Price (left) battles it out with Prep School Head Adam Gibson

The Annual Wellington Prep School Conker Championships smashed into action last Friday when a hoard of excited school children rose to the challenge and pitted their strength and skill against each other.

Eighty children in Years 3, 4 5 and 6 competed for the coveted “Conker Bear Trophy” which was carried off by a triumphant Atticus Adams from Year 6.  All children brought their own conkers and the competition was fierce!

“Sadly, the game of Conkers has declined in school playgrounds over the last 20 years, mainly due to rumoured ‘Health and Safety’ issues”, commented Adam Gibson, Headmaster of Wellington Prep School. “Such information is nonsense and we are determined to redress the balance and encourage our children to engage in competitive playground activity and traditional outdoor entertainment”.

The rules of the challenge are clearly laid out, and adapted from the International Rules and Regulations (www.worldconkerchampionships.com). They include such details as the maximum allowed length of string, and time allowed in each round and the dreaded ‘sudden death’.  In the name of fair play, competitors are discouraged from soaking the conkers in vinegar or the old “slow-bake” trick!

“The children rose to the challenge and enjoyed the competition immensely.  We encourage them to take risks and the game of conkers is a great opportunity for this.  We look forward to seeing Atticus defending his title next year,” concluded Adam Gibson.

There was then a tense “Clash of the Titans” as Senior School Headmaster Henry Price battled for supremacy against Prep School Headmaster Adam Gibson – after a tense and skilled match, Henry smashed Adam and was crowned champion.

1. The Health and Safety Executive has issued the following guidance:

The myth           Kids must wear goggles to play conkers

The reality        This is one of the oldest chestnuts around – a truly classic myth.  A well meaning head teacher decided children should wear safety goggles to play conkers.  Subsequently some schools appear to have banned conkers on ‘health and safety’ grounds or made children wear goggles or even padded gloves! 

Realistically the risk from playing conkers is incredibly low and just not worth bothering about.  If kids deliberately hit each other over the head with conkers, that is a discipline issue, not health and safety.

2. Britain is believed to be the only country in the world where the game of conkers is traditionally played

3. The first recorded game of conkers was on the Isle of Wight in 1848

4. The origin of the name ‘conker’ is unclear, but is believed to stem from the French word cogner, meaning to ‘hit’ or ‘biff’!

5. On finding your first conker of the season, you should say “Oddly, oddly onker, my first conker”. This ensures good fortune and few tangles throughout the championships!

6. Wellington School is an independent day and boarding school in Somerset for boys and girls aged 3-18. wellington-school.org.uk.