MORE than 60 triples from as far afield as Devon, Derbyshire and Nottingham, as well as the Marches area, shrugged off worries about the weather to gather at Hereford Leisure Centre last Sunday for the annual Hereford Open petanque competition.

There was some play of a very high standard, especially in the premier Rest & Recreation Travel Services Trophy where both finalists were made up of current or past national squad winners.

Winners Cardiff East - Phil Bradshaw, Phil Clayton and Glyn Attley - won a week's holiday in Portugal where they will represent the UK in an invitation match against the Portugese.

There were local winners in the Inches of Hereford Trophy where the team of Mike Stokes, Rob Connell and Nicky Andrews, who are all from the Staunton-on-Wye area, carried off the award.

The Beddards Trophy was won by Wenvoe Raiders from South Wales while the final trophy, sponsored by Pen-Y-Coed Petanque, was won by CJD from Coventry.

The previous day, 30 teams had contested the Oaklands Construction Ltd charity pairs competition.

A total of £350 was raised for the County Air Ambulance by the competition which was won by Carol Bradley from Monning-ton-on-Wye and Chris Rand from Coventry.

The profit from the main competition is also to be donated to the Air Ambulance and the total looks set to top £1,000.

The only real disappointment of the weekend was the state of the playing surface which had, in previous years, been regarded as one of the best prepared terrains for such an event, coupled with a threat that the Hereford Leisure Centre might not be available to host the event in future.

"I was surprised by the strength of feeling ex-pressed," said Marches Petanque Club chairman Robin Jarvis.

"On the suggestion of one of the competitors from South Wales, I drew up a petition calling on Herefordshire Council to act to ensure that the Hereford Open can continue to be held at Hereford Leisure Centre and to provide more tangible support to this event that has raised the profile of petanque in Hereford and the Marches nationally and contributed thousands of pounds to charity since its inception in 1999.

"There was overwhelming support for the petition which was signed by more than 140 of those present and will be circulated to petanque players throughout the UK before being presented to the council."