Brolly inventors take Southwold by storm

Given the dreary summer, it was ironic that a competition to design umbrellas from recycled materials was held on a beautiful warm day on the north Suffolk coast.

Given the dreary summer, it was ironic that a competition to design umbrellas from recycled materials was held on a beautiful warm day on the north Suffolk coast.

But organisers of the ever-popular Flying Egg contest in Southwold were more than happy to see the sun come out as thousands of people descended on the town to feast their eyes on dozens of weird and wonderful designs displayed along the High Street.

The event, which challenges budding inventors to transform a mundane everyday object into something spectacular, has become an institution in the town since it was first held in 2000 and yesterday's contest attracted nearly 80 entries.

Designs ranged from simple umbrellas made from pieces of plastic bag knitted together to a beautifully carved shelter made from a felled cedar tree.

Organiser Linda Sonntag said: “It was a fabulous event. There is a large feel-good factor that makes everybody really happy because it is so imaginative and surprising.”

The umbrella theme followed last year's contest to create alternative clocks while previous events have challenged inventors to find ways of making weird and wonderful deckchairs and weather vanes.

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Ms Sonntag said attention would now be turned to planning the 2008 Flying Egg contest, although a theme has yet to be decided.

The big winner at yesterday's event, which boasted Southwold brewer Adnams among its sponsors, was Halesworth-based artist Rachel Roft who walked off with the £1,000 adult individual prize for the second year running.

While many of the umbrella designs could be described as wacky and eccentric, Rachel chose a more emotive theme focusing on the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima.

Using the Japanese art of origami, she knitted pieces of colourful paper together to form an umbrella protecting a model of a child from the aftermath of the blast.

Crying tears of joy, Rachel said: “I'm just overwhelmed and can't believe it; I thought I couldn't possibly win it twice.”

In the under-18s section, Peter Chrispin won for his umbrella made from watercress while Bungay High School won the team event for its invention called “raining cats and dogs”.

The adult team winner was the Halesworth-based World Land Trust for its umbrella with a jungle theme.

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