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Stars play boules in Islington for Freddie Mercury charity

PUBLISHED: 06:53 10 June 2015

Thierry Thomasin (left), Jim Beach (second left) and others who helped organise the Londonaise

Thierry Thomasin (left), Jim Beach (second left) and others who helped organise the Londonaise

Dieter Perry

Python joins petanque tournament in aid of Queen frontman’s legacy

Monty Python's Eric Idle shows off his boulesMonty Python's Eric Idle shows off his boules

A star-studded line-up of celebrities and world champions headed to Islington for the UK’s biggest pétanque tournament.

The Londonaise, in Barnard Park, saw three days of boules action as the Frenchest of pastimes touched down in the borough.

Pétanque is a form of boules, developed in about 1900, in which the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (or piglet).

On Friday, a host of big names came to play in a charity challenge to raise cash for The Mercury Phoenix Trust, set up in memory of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

Current world champion Boules players from left are Claudy Weibel, Patrick Neuville, Michel Vancampenhont.Current world champion Boules players from left are Claudy Weibel, Patrick Neuville, Michel Vancampenhont.

Monty Python’s Eric Idle, legendary band manager Jim Beach, who looks after both the Pythons and Queen, Mark King from Level 42 and DJs Shaun Keaveeny and Matt Everitt all turned up.

Mr Idle said: “I am a big fan of boules. We’ve got a court in the garden at home.

“Jim [Beach] asked me to come down – he managed the Pythons, and some other group not sure what they’re called!

“It’s a for a great cause and I love to play,

“But you can only play when drunk, so we’re getting started early.”

After the event an old Routemaster bus took the teams for a slap-up dinner at Angelus – a French restaurant in Bayswater.

Then on Sunday, for the tournament proper a record-breaking 75 teams took part from all over the world, including Mauritius, Spain, Belgium, Hungary, France, the US, Bahrain, Sweden, and Estonia.

In the end a team from Perpignan, France, triumphed in an all-French final, picking up the trophy and £2,000 in prize money.

Team SLS, from Britain, did the home nations proud coming home in third.

Belgian world champions, Claudy Weibel and Michel VanCampenhout were also on hand to show people how it’s done.

Thierry Tomasin, restaurateur and co-founder of the Londonaise, said: “‘We are absolutely delighted with the quality of teams attending this year’s event. We have welcomed and encouraged a friendly atmosphere at The Londonaise for novices to be able to play against world-class players.”

He added: “We wanted to raise awareness of pétanque in Britain. To enjoy it, all you need to do is bring a picnic, a bottle of wine and play.

“They say it is not a sport, but that’s not true. You have to walk, bend down, throw the balls – that’s exercise.

“I believe the government in the UK should invest in pétanque and build pistes in the park.”

Thierry Thomasin, above left, Jim Beach and others who helped organise the Londonaise. Below left, pétanque world champions Claudy Weibel, Patrick Neuville and Michel Vancampenhont. Below right, boules fan Eric Idle

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