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It takes a forklift to raise, a dad to carry.

Byline: By Robert Brooks

Some parents will do anything to keep their kids happy ( but for Kevin Aitman and Vince Hedley it meant going the distance with a 24-stone bag of sand on their backs.

The two strapping dads were among 12 contenders competing for the coveted title of Alnwick Fair Strongman 2005, and both had daughters to answer to if they failed.

All they had to do was lug the massive sack of wet sand down the hill at Hotspur Street ( perhaps the steepest slope in Alnwick town centre ( then back up again without a pause ... as many times as possible.

Last year's load looked comparatively light at 20 stone, which meant that most of those taking part only managed to stagger a few yards before succumbing to the sheer pressure. It first looked as if rugby player Vince, who lives in Alnwick, would take the crown, managing to make a full trip down to the bottom of the hill and then back up with the enormous bag, cheered on by his mum, Sheila.

Arriving back at the forklift truck used to hoist the bag onto his back, he said: "Last year I promised my 12-year-old daughter Jordan that I would take part. It was after a few beers, but I'm pleased I went through with it." But his moment of glory was short-lived. Kevin, 43, came out of retirement to make a late entry to the contest, which he has won four times before.

He carried the huge weight just a few yards further than his rival, cheered on by daughter Tina, 16.

The dad-of-four, from Longhoughton, who has been competing in the event since the age of 16, said: "My kids have been egging me on. I didn't think I would take part, but they got their way."

The annual event is a highlight of Alnwick Fair week and the street was packed to capacity with spectators.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:320
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