The Great Ilmington Marmalade Challenge reaches its citrusy climax today. And the winner is… villager, community shop volunteer and star marmalade-maker Susan Brock! Susan’s stunning rendition of Delia Smith’s Dark Chunky Marmalade has earned her a bottle of Spirit of Ilmington Apple Brandy and the plaudits of judge Wendy Larner. But her homemade offering almost didn’t make the final cut: “Susan’s entry didn’t get through the first stage,” says Wendy, “because the colour was dark compared to everyone else’s. But then I went back to taste them all and Susan’s stood out a mile. The depth of flavour was amazing! You could see it had been made differently: it was very clear and the peel was a good texture.” Susan receives this high praise with practical modesty. “Tell Brian!” she says, referring to him indoors. “He cuts the peel up!” Susan says her marmalade is her answer to the old-style Frank Cooper brand, which apparently was suitably chunky “before it went all girly… so I found this recipe and started making my own. I’ve even entered it in the Ilmington Show but I never got anywhere. I must have made it just right this time!” As for the recipe in Delia’s Winter Collection, “it takes two days all together. You cook it for three hours then test for a set. It bubbles away nicely.” Bill Buckley and Rupert Wyles of Spirit of Ilmington keep a suitable social distance as they present Susan with her Apple Brandy. “Congratulations!” says Bill. “We like to support the shop in any way we can and this has been a splendid effort all round.” In the tightly-fought contest, 2nd place went to Suzanne Harding and 3rd to Joyce Bridges. We will feature them in next week’s social media. Well done and thank you to everyone who bought Seville oranges from us and had a go. You brightened up our lockdown no end.