Dudley, the beard champ of the 1966 Dolphin Fair

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Dudley Partidge was not a man to accept defeat easily.

In 1956 he was the proud holder of the all-England beard champion title.

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Sometime between then and 1966, he lost the title, presumably to a more hirsute man (or a menopausal woman who opted to forsake the tweezers).

But, in the year England won the World Cup, Dudley had his own reason to celebrate as he reclaimed his title at the Dolphin Fair, in Victoria Park, Haywards Heath.

This was the fifth year of the Fair since its revival and the team from Haywards Heath Round Table laid on many a sideshow and contest to entertain the crowds.

One of the men who failed to out-beard Dudley was French student Max Battini, who was studying in London.

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Young Max took drowning his sorrows to the next level when he walked off with the title of ale-quaffing champion – much to the shame of the locals!

Max managed to down a yard of ale – roughly two-and-a-quarter pints – in 28 seconds.

All was not lost for the good men of Sussex, though, as he failed to beat the record which stood at 22 seconds.

Second place went to Peter Booker, of Haywards Heath, who took 30 seconds, and third was John Banyard, also of Haywards Heath, who took 39 seconds.

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The fair wasn’t all about beards and beer.

Great-grandmother Mire Clark left Victoria Park £10 wealthier after winning the Mid Sussex Times’ Three Generations contest.

The idea was to find the grandmother with the most living relatives – but assistant editor Mr A Conway Gabe seemed to have under-estimated the longevity of the good people of Mid Sussex – Mrs Clark, 88, was one of several pensioners who could boast four generations of her family.

She had six sons and one daughter, 39 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren making a grand total of 87 living relatives.

Many of them joined her at the fair and she told Mr Gabe she would have loved to have seen one particular son among them.

He lived in Canada and she had not seen him for 43 years.

Mrs Clark was cradling her youngest great-grandson – three-week-old Alan Clark – when she accepted her prize from Mr Gabe.

Second prize went to Mrs George Batchelor, whose family tree included four sons, five daughters, 35 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren, making a total of 71. Mrs Small came third with seven sons, four daughters, 35 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren, making a total of 70.

Babies, beards and beer were of little interest to the children, so they took part in a scavenger hunt around the park.

Among the items they had to find were: a safety pin, a feather, a dandelion, a blackberry leaf and a hair from a beard.

No doubt Max and Dudley were suddenly painfully popular with the younger generation!

Joint winners were Sheila Parker and Maureen Walker, both 13, who found all 20 items in 29 minutes. Elizabeth Bonsey and Patricia Butler, both 11, came in second, while 10-year-old John Daniels was third after going solo.

What do you remember of the Haywards Heath Dolphin Fairs?

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