CALL it divine intervention. The vicar of Christchurch Priory Church was one of the winners of the annual Pancake Day races near Christchurch Priory.

Reverend Richard Partridge won the familiar faces category, Harry Fry from Splinters Restaurant won the chef’s race and Fretten’s Solicitors were the overall winners in the business races of the event for Shrove Tuesday.

Chefs, business people and local familiar faces brought along frying pans and perfectly cooked pancakes to toss their way to victory as the cobbled paths of the town were turned into a short race track.

The special occasion also marked the launch of the Christchurch Food Festival, which runs on May 9 and 10 this year.

Vicki Hallam, chairman of the Christchurch Food Festival, said: “It was amazing how competitive everyone was, but last year we had to disqualify some team members as there was a bit of cheating going on with pancakes not being tossed enough.

“This year’s pancakes races also launched the Food Festival, which promises to be even better than previous years as we’ll be expanding down to Christchurch Quay with a new Festival Village in addition to the popular to the High Street market.”

Hundreds of residents turned out for some flipping fun which featured Splinters Restaurant, Chewton Glen and The Three Tuns in the chefs’ round of the races, with staff pounding the pavements to be crowned the top pancake flipper.

Money raised from the entry fees of participants went towards Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust (CFFET) and the festival’s chosen charities.

Elsewhere in Dorset, the 18th annual pancake race took place around Wimborne Minster with events for children and adults with their frying pans and ready-cooked pancakes.

Teams from retailers at Castlepoint and the charity, Autism Wessex, competed to toss their pancake the highest in aid of a good cause and there were also races and demonstrations at the Sovereign Centre in Boscombe.