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Tim Bittlestone avatar
Tim Bittlestone

Cress 2016

I'm running the World's biggest Cress competition for BBC Children in Need because I've got an incredibly limited skill set.

366 %
raised of £800 target
by 129 supporters
  • Event: Cress 2016

BBC Children in Need

We fund people, projects and charities to change young lives in the UK

Charity Registration No. 802052 (England, Wales) SC039557 (Scotland)


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Good things come in threes. Omne trium perfectum.

Third in a series is always the best. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Return of the Jedi and Beverley Hills Cop 3 are just a few terrible examples of this.

The inaugural cress competition took place in 2011 with 40 wide-eyed innocent competitors growing cress on little bits of cotton wool and taking terrible quality photographs of the results. It was fun, but also frustrating as I discovered for the first time how utterly incapable people were of following the most basic instructions.

In 2013, after I’d vowed never to run the competition again, 238 people took part. It was chaotic and appallingly organised. If I wasn’t drinking fairly heavily at the time I certainly was by the end of it. Despite having 5 top quality judges (and me) something was still wrong with the format. It may have been the large quantity of wine consumed, but in the end, most of the plates of cress looked pretty much the same.

In 2014 and 2015 I toyed with the idea of another competition, but really, what was the point? It would be a lot of admin (I had two jobs already and really didn’t need a third) and in all likelihood would be the same all over again. I think maybe I’d lost my cress mojo. I decided not to go ahead with another competition.

Then 2016 happened. 2016 has been a year. An awful year. So many wonderful people have died. Actually, by the end of the year almost 56 million people will have died worldwide. Never have so many people died in one year. Not only that, but things seem to have gone mad in society itself. Brexit, Trump, ISIS, it’s all coming together like a perfect storm. A few thousand years ago God would have sent a flood to deal with it, or knocked down a massive tower. I’m not God. I can’t do either of those things. What I can do is organise a semi-decent cress competition. Well, I can organise a cress competition.

But this alone doesn’t work. There needs to be more to it. And there is. This year, I’ve decided to search for positivity, to encourage creativity, to embrace art. This year there is almost a point to it. There’s certainly going to be something for us to judge.

This year, for Cress 2016 (Crexit, if you will), I’ll be sending out a Cress Pack as usual – you’ll get the same amount of seeds as everyone else and a set of rules designed to trip up the less attentive of you, but that’s where the similarities end. This year you’ll have the freedom to express yourselves using the medium of cress. From the time the competition starts you’ll have eight days to produce a piece of cress-based art that represents 2016 for you. I won’t dictate what surfaces you grow it on, I won’t make you measure it with a metal ruler, heck, I won’t even stop you using blown-out egg shells (though you won’t win if you do). That’s a fairly generous brief, and I hope you’ll make the most of it.

As ever aggressive trolling is actively encouraged and children (bless those little angels) are banned from entering.

The judges decision will be final. After all, Crexit means Crexit. x

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