RNLI bans traditional yard of ale drinking contest amid binge drinking fears

22 October 2021, 09:30 | Updated: 22 October 2021, 09:31

The traditional yard of ale competition for lifeboat week has been cancelled
The traditional yard of ale competition for lifeboat week has been cancelled. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A traditional yard of ale drinking competition in Dorset has been banned by the RNLI amid fears it could encourage binge drinking.

Each year locals in Lyme Regis gather to watch the traditional yard of ale drinking competition during Lifeboat Week.

The popular event sees contestants compete to down a yard glass of beer in the quickest time, all whilst raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

But the event will not go ahead next year after the charity expressed fears the contest will send the wrong message about binge drinking near water.

The RNLI also raised concerns about the safety of large crowds who would gather in the road to watch the event.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said it was no longer “appropriate” for the lifesaving charity to support it.

They said: "The decision to remove an event called a 'Yard of Ale' from the programme of events included in the Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week was made after considering the safety of large crowds gathering in the road outside a public house.

"In addition, the RNLI has always been an advocate for responsible use of alcohol on or around water and no longer felt that it was appropriate to encourage the consumption of large quantities of alcohol at an event raising funds for the lifesaving charity."

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It is the third event to be banned from lifeboat week after the pram derby was banned after health and safety fears and Conger Coddling was cancelled due to animal cruelty complaints.

Gary Valentine, the landlord of the Cobb Arms, said: "This is the first I've heard about it being cancelled. The yard of ale contest is part of Lifeboat Week and is one of the highlights.

"It attracts a huge crowd and we have never had any trouble or problems before. Everyone stands outside to watch, half the road is closed for it.

"There's not many people that actually manage to drink the whole yard of ale anyway, the majority spill half of it down their shirts.

"It's a real shame. It has been going for at least ten years and this year's was hugely popular. I can't see the logic behind it. It's sad they've come to that decision."

Chris Higgs, the reigning yard of ale champion who drank his yard in 9.5 seconds, said: "Such a shame about the news of losing the last true lifeboat week event. I am proud to say I'm multiple-time and reigning champion.

"It was so great this year to see so many new faces having a go and such a great atmosphere."Let's hope this isn't the end of another great Lyme tradition."

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