As It Happens

This man lost his wallet 14 years ago and sparked a drinking game in his honour

A British journalist who lost his wallet in Reading, England 14 years ago has discovered he is the inspiration behind an annual cider-chugging challenge.
The point of The Tim Burrows Challenge is to drink as much cider as you can. (Sri Iyer/Shutterstock)

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Tim Burrows lost his wallet during a booze-soaked weekend in Reading, England 14 years ago and spawned an annual drinking game in his name that continues to this day. 

"I mean, it's very touching, actually," the London-based reporter told As It Happens host Carol Off.  "I really like the ritualistic aspect of it."

Tim Burrows of The Tim Burrows Challenge. (The Guardian )

It all began in 2003, when a group of intoxicated youths happened upon a lost wallet during the Reading Festival, which Burrows describes as "a place where teenagers go to sort of try and get served beer or take their own cider or vodka and go and see their favourite bands and just sort of go mad, really."

Crowd scene on the second day of The Reading Festival on Aug. 28, 2004, in Reading, England, the year after a group of intoxicated teens stumbled upon Tim Burrows' lost wallet. (Jo Hale/Getty Images)

The teens "burrowed" a £10 bill from the wallet, which they used to buy as much White Lightning cider — "a very cheap way to get strong alcohol, basically" — as they could.

They then returned the wallet, otherwise unscathed, to the lost and found, where Burrows later retrieved it.

Burrows — now a married news reporter with a five-month-old baby — had long forgotten lost wallet incident from what he calls "bit of a hazy weekend" when he was just 19.

Then he opened a Facebook message last week from a complete stranger named Giles asking if he'd ever lost a wallet in Reading.​

Burrows, who has a history of losing stuff, says his memories of that weekend are fuzzy at best. But with the help of his wife, and friends who were with him, he's pieced together that he is, indeed, the Timothy Burrows of cider-funding fame. 

Giles proceeded to tell him all about The Tim Burrows Challenge, in which two teams chug back as much cheap cider as they can. It's a tradition he and his friends have carried on ever since they swiped the lost cash 14 years prior.  

"I think to call it a game is a bit of a stretch. I think that's why they call it a challenge," Burrows said. "Whoever won in the evening probably didn't feel like they'd won in the morning."

Burrows — who is now planning to meet up with Giles and his friends — says there are no hard feelings.

"For me, I don't really begrudge them taking the £10. There's a strange vibe at Reading. It's full of people who've run out of money on the first day because they don't really know how to budget because they're really drunk and they're 17-years-old, often," he said.

"I can see the logic in, you know, spending all of the money in the wallet on cider immediately, but also doing quite a nice thing by handing it over to lost property with the cards intact. I think that's probably the most decent you can actually be at Reading Festival."

Music fans soak up the atmopshere during the 2012 Reading Festival, which London reporter Tim Burrows says is famed for his drunken debauchery. ( Simone Joyner/Getty Images)


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