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433 Nigels gather in pub for celebration of all things ‘Nigel’

The gathering at the Fleece Inn in Worcestershire was an unofficial world record, according to organiser Nigel Smith.

Nigel Smith and the staff at the Fleece Inn (The Fleece Inn)
Nigel Smith and the staff at the Fleece Inn (The Fleece Inn)

By Alistair Mason, PA

More than 400 people named Nigel gathered in a country pub for a special party designed to “celebrate Nigelness”.

The event at the Fleece Inn in Worcestershire, was attended by 433 Nigels, according to Landlord Nigel Smith – including one who flew over from America especially.

And Mr Smith, 56, hopes he has done his bit to help put the name back on the map with his event in the village of Bretforton, which also raised money for the British Heart Foundation.

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(The Fleece Inn)

He told PA: “I’ve always felt that the name’s much maligned – people would say to me when I was young ‘Nigel, that’s got to be a joke name hasn’t it?’

“So it was really just to get a few Nigels together in the same room, to share Nigel stories and celebrate our Nigelness – that was the original intention.”

Mr Smith first got the idea of a Nigel-themed get-together a couple of years back when he was “a bit shocked” to find Office for National Statistics data suggested there had been no babies named Nigel in 2016.

He finally got round to arranging the event this year and, after a Facebook page advertising went viral, he was delighted with the turnout.

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(The Fleece Inn)

“We got some 433 Nigels there last night, plus about another thousand non-Nigels who’d just come along for a laugh,” he said.

All Nigels were required to prove their credentials with a passport or driver’s licence, and anyone who did was rewarded with a free pint and a Nigel badge. Everyone else was given a non-Nigel badge.

Mr Smith said: “We had a singer, a busker – both called Nigel – and a comedian called Nigel. We had Nigel awards for the furthest travelled, the youngest, oldest. We picked a collective noun for Nigels, which is a niggle of Nigels.

“We basically registered all the Nigels into the building so we knew how many were there so we could claim at least an unofficial record if nothing else.”

Gratifyingly for those worried about the future of the name, the youngest Nigel there was just seven months old – while the furthest travelled Nigel had crossed the Atlantic just to be there.

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(The Fleece Inn)

Mr Smith said: “He was a Texan guy who lives in Denver, Colorado, who had seen it on social media and was very keen, so his girlfriend put it out to all the friends to see if they’d each send a few dollars to fund a trip for Nigel to come over, which they duly did.

“That raised enough money for them both to come over, so he was not only our Texan Nigel but also our crowdfunded Nigel.”

The Texan Nigel proved the most notable visitor on a day when one person in particular was notable by her absence.

Mr Smith said: “There were no Nigellas, which was a bit sad really – the whole thing was a ruse to try and get Nigella Lawson along. We didn’t have any celebrity Nigels but it’s their loss. Maybe the next time round they’ll make the right decision and come along.

“We did have our local MP Nigel Nuddleston along, but the other politicians whose name are Nigel perhaps wouldn’t be welcome.”

After the shock of a Nigel-free year in 2016, ONS statistics show there have been nearly 20 babies who have been given the name over the last couple of years.

And Mr Smith believes he and the other 432 Nigels at his celebration have done their bit to improve the name’s reputation.

“I think we’ve brought it back,” he said. “We will resurge – there’ll be a lot more Nigels next year than this year, I’d definitely put money on that.

“And we’ve just taken away a little bit of that stigma and reaffirmed what a fantastic name Nigel is – once you’ve grown into it. It takes a little while.”

PA

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