PERSHORE Plum Festival was launched with plenty of entertainment, but a severe shortage of the town’s famous purple fruit.

Difficult growing conditions have meant that this year’s crop is late, but festival chairman Angela Tidmarsh said she was hopeful they would ripen and be ready in the coming weeks.

Hundreds of people flocked to Plum Alley in Chapman Court for the launch of the month-long festival.

The bells of Pershore Abbey rang out as a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce transported this year’s Plum Princess, eightyear- old Alicia Mardle from Pinvin, to the event. She carried out the opening ceremony alongside her attendants Hannah Smith, aged seven, from Pershore and nine-year-old Eleanor Gash from Eckington. The trio were joined by Pershore Mayor Charles Tucker, the Rev Elvis Andy Kelso, Pershore’s town crier Robert Speight and ‘Plum Charmer’ Paul Johnson.

Councillor Tucker said: “The festival has grown to an event which is known throughout the country. Thousands of people will visit, and Pershore will offer a very warm welcome to all.”.

Plum Charmer Mr Johnson, who uses his clarinet to serenade fruit and encourage it to ripen, said: “I’ll make an earlier start next year.”.

Plum Alley will be open every Saturday in August and the festival culminates with Pershore Plum Fayre Day on August Bank Holiday Monday.

For a full programme of events, visit