COUNTRYSIDE-lovers were transported back in time for a test of historic rural skills.

More than 50 ploughmen - and women - headed to Appleford, near Didcot, to take part in a ploughing match, using only vintage equipment.

Spectators were treated to the sight of competitors, some experts and others novices, tilling the soil in vintage tractors, many built as early as the 1930s.

The competitors also raised more than £500 for Abingdon-based charity, Young Hearts.

Janice Mobbs, the organiser of the annual competition, said ploughing was not as easy as it looked.

She said: "It was very successful and, for the people who came, it felt like a real family outing.

"All the entrants did really well, especially the ladies - although they did struggle a bit.

"It's hard work when you do not know much about ploughing, because you need to watch the machine all the time."

Frances Scaddan, chairman of Young Hearts, presented the prizes.

She said: "It was fantastic. I was so heartened that they had combined a competition and a really good day with raising funds for us.

"We are very grateful because we rely heavily on such people."

Young Hearts was set up by parents and friends of children with congenital heart disease at the request of paediatric nurses at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

It offers advice on the telephone and a link to other sources of information, as well as introducing parents to other charities which support families and children.

The charity is now planning to buy specialist equipment to test blood for children being treated at the John Radcliffe.

Mrs Mobbs said it was important to support the charity.

She said: "A lot of people who plough are retired with grandchildren and many of the younger ones have children of their own."

Scrap dealer Roy Breakspear, from Wantage, won champion ploughman despite having just four years of experience.

The 46-year-old, who drove a green 1941 Fordson tractor in the contest, said: "I just plough as a hobby, but I think it's good to keep these traditions going."