The eighth annual J-Rat Digging Award winner was announced last night (19th November) at Priddy Village Hall during a joint celebration with the Mendip Cave Rescue, whose 80th anniversary falls this year. The Award is made annually in remembrance of Tony (J-Rat) Jarrett and is presented to the team, from Mendip or from Scotland, who have discovered – and surveyed – the most passage in the year up to the end of October.
The MC for the evening was Peter Glanvill. He gave a quick round up of various ongoing projects on Mendip, on behalf of people who couldn’t be there on the night, and then announced presentations from several more digging teams. These included Vurley Swallet, by Peter himself, Cutler’s Green (Estelle Sandford) which now has 232m of passage spread between several holes, Hobnail Hole, now connected to Thrupe Lane Swallet, Tankard Shaft (Duncan Simey) a complex series of natural and mined passages, Poll Breugair, this year’s Scottish entry which was thought to connect to The Cave of the Liar but which went upstream through a nice streamway and various chambers instead. The final presentation was an excellent filmed account of the digging and discovery of Tween Twins, introduced by Jonathan Williams. Your correspondent was most taken by Alan Gray’s brief account of a high density laser scan of Redcliffe Caves in Bristol carried out by Max Fisher of the Wessex Cave Club in only a couple of hours (fast walking pace, said Alan) but at seemingly vast expense. We hope to hear more of this in the future.
Following the evening’s events, Peter realised that he’d failed to ask Chris Binding to give his presentation on the work in Grebe Swallet. This was an unfortunate oversight and Peter wishes it to be known that he apologises unreservedly to Chris.
The results of this year’s competition were then announced by Martin Grass, assisted by Stuart McManus and hindered by Peter Glanvill (“Put the camera down, Pete!”) Third was last year’s winner, Wigmore Swallet (Home Close Hole) which has now reached sump 11 and is still going. Second was Poll Breugair, but the winner was Tween Twins, whose surveyed length now stands at 252m, of which 201m were discovered this year. It was nice to hear that the dig, started by Pete Hann in the 1980s, but dormant for many years, was revitalised after Tony Jarrett challenged the team to start work again.
In a surprise twist, Martin told the audience that the judges had been contacted and told that another 20 metres had been surveyed in Poll Breugair, which would have been enough to take them into first place, except that the survey had been done the day after the deadline. As Martin said “Tony would have loved that!”
Correspondent: Graham Mullan