THE World Onion Growing championships has been won by Billy Lamb - for the sixth year running.

Retired pitman Mr Lamb put his latest success down to luck.

Mr Lamb's winning onion weighed in at 14lbs 10oz - almost 7kg - at the Northern Social Club, Ashington, Northumberland.

The 63-year-old said: "This is the sixth time I have done it, and they are getting bigger each year.

"It's down to the right combination of chemicals in the trench, the right strain of onion and a lot of luck."

Mr Lamb, of Easington, County Durham, had planned to retire this year, but found he could not bring himself to hang up his spade.

His granddaughter Ashley, 14, helped look after the trenches and water the leeks.

And his wife, Margaret, kept it in the family when she came fourth in the competition with an onion of 12lbs 5oz, 5.5kg.

But neither of the onions will be gracing the Lamb family dinner table today, they will be put back in the ground to germinate next year's crop.

Bill McClymont, of Carlisle, Cumbria, came second, with third place going to R Storey, of Seaton Carew, Hartlepool.

The winner of the leeks contest was John Pearson, of Hetton-le-Hole, Tyne and Wear, with a measurement of 515.6 cubic inches.

Second was James Common, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, with 459.17 cubic inches, and third was Malcolm Baxter, of Hetton-le-Hole, with 454.81 cubic inches.

Organiser Dicky Atkinson said: "It's been another successful year for the North's growers.

"The number of leeks was down a bit this year due to the hot summer but it has not affected quality.

"Onions are well up. More people are now growing onions in preference to leeks."