When the batter got a battering in 1983

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One of the wonderful things about being British is our pig-headed refusal to let the weather ruin our plans.

In 1983, the good people of Mid Sussex had lined up several pancake races for Shrove Tuesday, to raise money for a variety of good causes.

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Did they let the awful weather stop them? They did not!

Despite the wind, rain and some really chilly temperatures, the batter was soon flying from Burgess Hill to Fletching.

In some corners, the tradition is to eat the pancakes once the race is run – but Fletching folk advised people not to do so as most of them had plopped more than once into the High Street gutters during what was described as a race “run with enthusiasm”.

In the under-8 race, four-year-old William Howe beat his big sister Charlotte to the finishing line, with Natalie Miles coming third. Scott Marrion was the champ of the over-14s, running the legs off truck driver Barry Dickens and farmer John Howe.

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And in the race for nine to 14-year-olds, Nicky Baldwin, 13, pipped Paul Dickens and Shawn Bishop to the post.

In the women’s race, first place was taken by Tracy Dickens, who left Lynn Miles and Sharon Kemp far behind.

Over in Burgess Hill, staff from Tesco had a flipping good time as they raced through the empty market area – though some dubious tactics were brought into play by the winner of the men’s race!

His name was Jim Marsh and – when he wasn’t flinging batter around – he worked as the store’s provisions manager.

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Gentleman Jim had a plan, according to the report in the Mid Sussex Times, and that included using a double pancake to ensure it had the consistency to survive some pretty rough in-race treatment.

The plan worked and he beat Mel Hutson to the finish line when the latter dropped his pancake.

Another contestant to drop his pancake was Murray Spark who competed in the women’s race.

Fear not, though; there was no cheating or dodgy wigs involved. The valiant Murray had stepped in as a late substitute – and was promptly thrashed by his five female colleagues.

Tesco manager Jim Gravett told the Middy: “We cooked the pancakes last night but we had to firm them up a bit.”

The race was in aid of the Sunshine Appeal and the team set itself a target of £1,000.

Still in Burgess Hill, the girls of St Trinian’s caused havoc at Oakmeeds School.

The young tearaways were joined by mums, dads, grans and granddads as well as teachers and members of the Marle Place and Park Centre community centres, making a total of 64 teams of six.

All money raised went towards the building of a fifth year centre, which was due to open that summer. The over all winner was a team from form 5D.

The only Mid Sussex pancake race not to go ahead during that chilly February was Cuckfield’s. The weather was deemed far too cold for the village’s tiny tots so, rather than disappoint them while everyone else had fun, Rev Eric Hayden and his fellow organisers decided the fairest thing to do was to cancel the whole thing.

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