Bognor International Birdman contest to go ahead.... even if its 18 miles away in Worthing

Last updated at 16:09 10 May 2008

The famous Bognor International Birdman contest which was scrapped amid safety fears will soar once more - 18 miles along the coast in Worthing.

The competition was grounded ahead of its 30th anniversary this year after the owner of Bognor pier shortened it by 80ft for health and safety reasons.

The Birdman organisers said it would be too dangerous for competitors to leap into shallower waters from the Grade II-listed pier, leading to the contest being cancelled.

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One of the contestants took flight during a previous year's competitions at Bognor

It prompted traders and community leaders in Worthing to drum up £25,000 towards the costs of running the event, which has gained a worldwide following.

More than 20,000 people watch an assortment of characters dressed in makeshift costumes and contraptions make fanciful attempts to fly the furthest unaided.

But following the passing of a health and safety assessment on Worthing Pier, organisers are now busily preparing themselves to host the event on the weekend of July 5 and 6.

West Sussex county councillor John Livermore said today: "It's a fantastic event for Worthing and there is a great deal of enthusiasm, with people wanting to get involved."

He said the title of the event would remain largely unchanged, with it likely to be called the Bognor International Birdman contest in Worthing.

Mr Livermore added: "It has been a Bognor event for the past 30 years so it would be a bit unfair for the Bognor connection to be removed.

"At the moment it is the Bognor Birdman contest in Worthing - it has just flown over."

He refused to be drawn on whether the contest would become a permanent fixture in Worthing, saying it was important to focus on the short-term effort to get the event organised.

Birdman organiser Derek Trotman said: "It's fantastic that we've been able to come so far in such a short space of time but to be able to get an event like this organised by July is going to take real effort."

He added: "I'd like it to return to Bognor but you have got to be sensible and realise for that to happen Bognor pier would have to be re-extended and that could cost £5 million."

One of contestant's takes a nose dive into the water below

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