Hundreds of turkeys go under the hammer in Diss

The tree and decorations are up, the presents have been bought, and the final preparations for Christmas are almost complete.

And hundreds of bidders descended on a Norfolk auction house last night to pick out the essential ingredient of Christmas Day – a nice, plump bird for the dinner table.

More than 300 plucked and oven-ready turkeys, chickens, geese and ducks went under the hammer during the annual Christmas poultry show and sale at TW Gaze in Diss.

There was standing room only in Saleroom 3 as around 100 birds an hour were sold at the auction house, which has been operating in the town for more than 150 years. And the event was also a chance for local farmers to show off their lovingly hand-reared birds.

Auctioneer Edward Baskerville said there was a 'very good' turnout for the sale of 340 birds. He added that the meat from the poultry sale usually worked out cheaper than butcher prices, but dearer than a supermarket.

'People have been coming to buy their Christmas turkeys each year from TW Gaze and they keep coming back.

'I think it is the history and nostalgia and they are up for a bargain.

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'People love an auction,' he said.

Trevor Edwards, who judged and handed out rosettes to the best in show, said it was another good standard from the producers, who are mostly 'small hobby farmers'.

'It is fantastic to see what good produce we have here and there is something for everyone from small to large from every different species and bird. If someone wants to be particular about food miles, you can not do better than come to a local market,' he said.

Rachael Hipperson, sale organiser, said all of the birds came from local farms and smallholdings within a 20 mile radius.

'The atmosphere is really nice and jovial and festive and a lot of people just come for the social scene,' she said.

The champion of champions award was a turkey from Claire Hancey, of Banham. The best goose was from Jeremy Blackmore, of Huntingfield, the champion chicken was from John Le-Gros, of Thorndon, and best duck was from Mickey Wharton, of Blo Norton.