MORE than 400 people named Nigel gathered in a country pub for a special party designed to "celebrate Nigelness".

The event at the Fleece Inn, in Bretforton, was attended by 433 Nigels, according to landlord Nigel Smith - including one who flew over from America especially.

Mr Smith, 56, hopes he has done his bit to help put the name back on the map with his event, which also raised money for the British Heart Foundation.

He said: "I've always felt that the name's much maligned – people would say to me when I was young 'Nigel, that's got to be a joke name hasn't it?'

"So it was really just to get a few Nigels together in the same room, to share Nigel stories and celebrate our Nigelness - that was the original intention.”

Mr Smith first got the idea of a Nigel-themed get-together a couple of years back when he was "a bit shocked" to find Office for National Statistics data suggested there had been no babies named Nigel in 2016.

He finally got round to arranging the event this year and, after a Facebook page advertising went viral, he was delighted with the turnout.

He said: "We got some 433 Nigels there last night, plus about another thousand non-Nigels who'd just come along for a laugh.

“We will resurge - there'll be a lot more Nigels next year than this year, I'd definitely put money on

that. And we've just taken away a little bit of that stigma and reaffirmed what a fantastic name Nigel is - once you've grown into it.”

All Nigels were required to prove their credentials with a passport or driver's licence, and anyone who did was rewarded with a free pint and a Nigel badge. Everyone else was given a non-Nigel badge.

Mr Smith said: "We had a singer, a busker - both called Nigel - and a comedian called Nigel. We had Nigel awards for the furthest travelled, the youngest, oldest. We picked a collective noun for Nigels, which is a niggle of Nigels.”

The youngest Nigel there was just seven months old - while the furthest travelled Nigel had crossed the Atlantic just to be there.

Mr Smith said: "He was a Texan guy who lives in Denver, Colorado, who had seen it on social media and was very keen, so his girlfriend put it out to all the friends to see if they'd each send a few dollars to fund a trip for Nigel to come over, which they duly did.”