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Cheesy Bingo

The British are inventive folk. Not an episode of Dragons' Den goes by that does not at the very least bring admiration for the guts to get up before the Dragons of the title, if not complete confidence in the business models proposed.

So, when a group of farmers in North Wales who were keen on free bingo took their passion to the market the result was something quite startling: cheese bingo.

It all started by a light-hearted comment in a bingo chat room from Bryn Thomas, of Cwr Glas Farm, Flintshire.

"It was just a joke, really," explains Bryn. "A group of us visit a particular site that offers free games on Sunday night. We were logged on and playing when my wife suggested we could organise a game of our own. Jokingly, I said we'd have to give the prizes in cheese and eggs and we sort of stopped and looked at each other. I posted it in the chat room and the rest is history."

That history is nothing short of incredible.

The group of friends got together the next weekend to chat about their idea. Many of them contribute to local farm shops and farmers' markets, and over the years have built up an extensive network of agricultural contacts.

Deciding on cheese "because of its universal appeal", they proceeded to source the cheese that could be used in a game of bingo.

Soon, they had discovered over one-hundred kinds that were easily accessible and whose makers were buoyant over the chance for their cheese to enter the world of cheese bingo.

Based on the 75-ball game as "it would mean using less cheese", the bingo players are distributed a card before each game as normal. Each card comes with a kind of compartmentalised lid attached - like the storage box of a mechanic.

In each compartment is a small piece of cheese that is relevant to that number, to be eaten when the number is called out. The normal line and coverall rules apply, with a prize of a cheese of the winning number for the victor.

"The great thing is that no cheese goes to waste," adds Bryn. "We're all cheese lovers, so when each game is finished we just open the boxes and finish off the rest of the cheese anyway!"

As crazy as it sounds, word spread around the local area through the networks of farm-meetings and pubs, and before the farmers knew it they had a regular following of bingo-lovers who wanted to give this exotic new version a try.

Now, the group offers regular games where anyone can play. Asked to donate "a couple of quid" to go towards spiralling cheese costs, the meetings are a sure fire hit with the locals.

Perhaps we should keep our eyes peeled for Bryn during the next series of Dragons' Den, but one thing can be certain - they will have to tread Caerphilly to progress.


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