IT WAS really thirsty work for the thousands of revellers who thronged to the three-day charity Bent and Bongs Beer Bash at Atherton.

Now in its 24th year the annual event at the Formby Hall proved itself still the toast of the town.

Around 800 real ale lovers were at every session during the bash which was held on the evenings of Thursday and Friday last week with Saturday afternoon and evening opening hours.

Main sponsors were The Jolly Nailor, a favourite town centre hostelr in Atherton, and the Formby Hall Community Trust. The Jolly Nailor was celebrating after being boted Pub of the Year by the South East Lancs branch of real ale campaigners CAMRA.

Overall takings were slightly down by 3.4 per cent compared with last year's event but Bash trustee and organiser Paul Coggan said he was confident the 24th festival would net over £20,000 profit.

"I'd like to thank the local community and sponsors for their great support," said Paul.

Event trustees and volunteers will gather on Friday for a debriefing at the Jolly Nailor pub in Atherton.Over the years the beer festival has raised over £370,000 for local charitites and organisers are hoping this year's takings will take it to the £400,000 mark. This year's beneficiary will be Childflight.

South East Lancs CAMRA branch chairman Sarah Bellis, who managed the cider bar at the Bash, said: "The event embraced music and food together with a large selection of real ales, cider, lager, perries, music and laughter."