Christmas shopping can be a trial for us all at this time of year.
But Richard Dunk has just completed the seasonal challenge of a lifetime – buying up 2,300 Christmas puddings in just six days.
Richard is race director of the annual Percy Pud 10k race, with runners tackling the usual Loxley Valley course this Sunday.
Now in its 21st year, it’s traditional for organising club Steel City Striders to present everyone completing the event with a Christmas pudding.
But this year there was a problem.
“Last week our usual supplier told me he wouldn’t be able to supply us with the puds we were expecting,” said Richard.
“It was a nightmare – but we were determined to present our puddings as usual to the 2,000 runners and the 300 marshals and stewards who make sure it all goes smoothly.”
It was too late to make another bulk order from a wholesaler – and so The Great Christmas Pudding Hunt began. “I started last Wednesday evening, continuing every day until the job was finally done on Monday,” said Richard.
Richard visited shops and supermarkets in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Penistone and Chesterfield – and his odyssey took him from Clay Cross in the south to Wakefield in the north.
“By Saturday we’d still only got hold of 1,000 so there was still a long way to go – I was at it all day on Sunday.”
At some shops Richard picked up a dozen, at others he bought 20.
“Some had none at all, and at others they wouldn’t sell us any as they didn’t want their usual customers to be disappointed.
“Others said, ‘Fine, take everything we’ve got, we can restock’,” he said.
A particular highpoint came at the Asda superstore at Handsworth, where Richard was able to stock up his trolleys with 700 puddings.
“It raised some eyebrows but we explained the problem and they were fine with it,” he said.
Another issue was the budget – Richard had £4,500 to spend which meant he couldn’t afford to snap up any of the luxury lines which many shops now offer.
“Our puddings are decent quality but we had to leave the pricey ones, doused in brandy and egg nog or what-have-you, behind,” he said.
“Tesco stores in general were particularly helpful, and they had puds for £2 each while elsewhere they were more like £3.”
But don’t worry – Richard doesn’t think he’s created a regional Christmas pudding drought just as the shopping season begins in earnest.
“We only took the ones that were out on the shelves, we didn’t ask for any of the stock behind the scenes, so we think everyone’s Christmas dinners will be just fine!”