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Profiteers blamed over failed Wally bid

PUBLISHED: 10:10 26 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 July 2010

Profiteers have been accused of wrecking Great Yarmouth's bid to set a new world record for the largest number of people dressed as the cartoon character Wally in one place.

Profiteers have been accused of wrecking Great Yarmouth's bid to set a new world record for the largest number of people dressed as the cartoon character Wally in one place.

A bookstore owner in the town said he became suspicious after Wally costumes which had been sold in advance for £5 turned up on internet auction site Ebay for up to £30 ahead of Saturday's event in the Market Place.

Organisers spoke of their disappointment after the record attempt failed. They said that 901 people took part but that 152 more were needed to beat the current record held by New York where 1,052 people dressed as Waldo, Wally's American equivalent, earlier this year.

Martin Blackwell, who owns Books Inside and said he originally came up with the record attempt idea, blamed profiteers for wrecking the bid.

“It was a real achievement to run New York so close but really disappointing to have missed the record by a hundred or so,” he said.

“Given that we sold all 1,200 costumes and were mobbed in the last two hours with hundreds more wanting to take part it was desperately disappointing that 299 people who had bought costumes were missing.

“I had a suspicion that something like this might happen when the costumes we sold for £5, a £1 of which went to Breast Cancer, were turning up on Ebay for up to £30 ahead of Saturday. It seems that some people saw a chance to make a killing and took it.”

Mr Blackwell urged those who did take part to hold on to their costumes and said that his staff were up for having another go at breaking the record.

“The mistake we made was sending our costumes in the post and letting them go out beforehand,” he said. “Next time we'll make people collect them on the day. If they want to put them on Ebay after that's fine, but let's break this record first.”

Despite the drizzling rain there was a party atmosphere as the countdown to the record attempt began with people of all ages dancing to music in their Wally costumes.

Everyone taking part needed to hand in a ticket to confirm that they were there.

Organisers, the Great Yarmouth Town Centre Partnership, later announced that the bid had failed.

Town centre manager, Jonathan Newman, said “I am disappointed that we didn't actually beat the record but this was a fantastic attempt and I am delighted that the 901 Wally's have been absolutely magnificent, there has been a real carnival atmosphere.”

Mr Newman confirmed that £901, £1 for each person that took part, would be donated to the Breast Cancer Care charity.

In addition, Boots prepared 1,200 goody bags to give to everyone taking part and sold the remainder for a further £1 towards the same charity giving a total of £1,200 raised in all.

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