MORE than 100 people turned out to watch a series of charity pancake races at the entrance of the Priory to launch Christchurch Food and Wine Festival.

The cobbled part of Church Street, which leads up to the Priory Church, was packed with cheering onlookers as a host of teams attempted to run the length of the road without dropping the contents of their pans.

The event was being held in aid of the Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust and Autism Wessex, and Vicky Hallam, chairman of the Food Festival committee, said it promised to be a great day full of fun for everybody taking part.

She added: “The Food Festival has undergone some changes this year becoming a Community Interest Company and with a new website, so we thought it would be timely to launch both on Pancake Day.”

The competition started at 10am with competitors under strict instructions to toss their pancakes at least three times throughout the race.

The contest kicked off with a race between business in the area, with staff from Halifax seeing off rivals including Waitrose, Frettens and Aspire Architects to be crowned winners. Next up were chefs from 12 nearby restaurants where Loch and Quay’s Ludwig Spitzer took the glory, beating cooks from the Jetty, Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Kings Arms Hotel, Crooked Beam, Captain's Club and Lord Bute, David Putt won the eagerly anticipated ‘faces of Christchurch’ race, defeating food festival president Mary Reader and president of Christchurch rotary David Crumpler.

Teams featuring students as young as five from the Priory School also competed in a relay race, with pupils from Mrs Sibbale’s relay team winning. This year’s Food and Wine Festival takes place on May 10 and 11.