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World Conker Championships organiser joins Josh Widdicombe in 2024 Dull Men’s Club Calendar





A conker devotee and former part-time Spiderman has been honoured with a prized slot in a calendar for ‘dull men’.

St John Burkett, from Barnack, was handpicked as ‘Mr September’ in the Dull Men’s Club Calendar for 2024 for his dedication to conkering.

Each month is dedicated to an individual and their unique or quirky passion, with St John handpicked for his role on the organising committee of the World Conker Championships in Southwick, near Oundle.

St John in action at this year's championships. Photo: Gavin Major
St John in action at this year's championships. Photo: Gavin Major

The calendar also features stand-up comedian Josh Widdicombe – who performed a set in Stamford four years ago - for his obsession with Aussie soap Neighbours.

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St John is sandwiched between men from Colorado who run a car ‘orphanage’ (August) and an award-winning fruit grower from Nebraska who uses a giant pumpkin as a boat (October).

“I could’ve had an OBE or MBE, even a knighthood for conkering, but to be recognised like this is a much greater honour,” joked St John, known to friends as Singe.

St John's September slot
St John's September slot

“When you’re younger and in your twenties you want to be pictured climbing mountains or jumping out of an aeroplane, but as you get older this is more the sort of thing you appreciate.

“When Leland (club vice-president) first phoned up he really wanted to know whether I would be suitable for the Dull Men’s Club and after five minutes of talking about conkers he knew I was an appropriate person.”

St John’s page on the calendar drills down into the elements that fire his passion for the championships – ‘I like all aspects of it: processing participants' applications, setting up the platforms for the matches and the control tower, drilling the holes and attaching the strings’.

St John Burkett is honoured to take his place in the Dull Men's Calendar. Photo: Gavin Major
St John Burkett is honoured to take his place in the Dull Men's Calendar. Photo: Gavin Major

The tongue-in-cheek group for self-deprecating men – and now women – was set up in New York with a motto of ‘Celebrating the Ordinary’.

“I was familiar with the Dull Men’s Club before and have at least one of their books so the whole process was very interesting,” St John added.

“When the club first started they did a bus tour which involved a bus coming to the club and members toured around the bus.”

St John has been involved with organising the World Conker Championships since 1994. Photo: Dave Hodson
St John has been involved with organising the World Conker Championships since 1994. Photo: Dave Hodson

St John became involved with the championships in 1994 after competing and offering some feedback.

“I was asked to come to a committee meeting to tell them my suggestions and once you’ve been to a meeting that’s it – you’re stuck,” he explained.

“I’ve really enjoyed doing it. The group are very similarly minded – relaxed and laidback. They all thought they were complete amateurs who knew nothing – yet they put on this very well-organised event.

“If you become an expert by default, then I’m an expert in conkers.”

This is not the first time St John’s image has been in demand, having once appeared in photoshoots up and down the country, although as a suitably unusual and nerdish alter ego.

“Back in the past I was once the country’s third Spiderman,” he recalled.

“My mother writes books and her publisher was an agent for Marvel Comics. They were looking for people to attend events around the country dressed in the costume.

“If the first or second Spiderman weren’t around I had to stand in.

“Being dressed in lycra in Hartlepool in February was some experience. It was so cold, the organiser had to feed me scotch.”

St John has spent his working life in education, as a teacher at Linchfield Primary School in Deeping St James, deputy head at Ryhall Primary School, headteacher at Southfield Primary School, now Catmose, in Oakham, and now as a schools advisor around the country.

Perhaps so much time spent in front of what can be harsh classroom audiences has helped him avoid taking offence

“I always say you get to an age where you don’t give a monkeys about what other people think,” he said.

“My family and friends think it’s quite amusing – they’re starting to call me Mr September so that will do me.”



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