A FLAG competition which sparked ‘great leaps’ in business for Dorchester stores has vowed to return next year by popular demand.

The winners of the contest, organised by the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), were presented with their prizes in Antelope Walk.

Flags representing countries from all over the world have been hanging in the town’s stores all summer, with children and adults alike racing to collect a sticker from each, and visiting new businesses in the process.

The overall winner was 12-year-old Mark Strudwick, who completed the set in ‘a couple of days’ during the summer holidays.

The All Saints pupil, from Weymouth, said: “I really en-joyed taking part and was excited when I found out I won.”

Mark was awarded £80 to spend in a Dorchester shop.

Mum Donna, who owns Gold-crest Jewellers, said: “We took part in the competition, handing out the flag stickers, so we’ve seen it from both sides.

“It really did bring a lot more footfall into the town.”

Second prize was awarded to five-year-old St Mary’s First School pupil Holly Holdcroft, who won £40, and third prize went to Caleb Cheffey, seven, who attends Damers First School and was awarded £20. Toymaster also donated vouchers worth £20 and £10 to Holly and Caleb.

More than 300 entry forms were sent out, and, of the 100 which were returned, 60 were correct. All the correct entries were put into a box, with organisers drawing out the three winners at random.

Phil Gordon, BID project director, said: “To all of the hundreds of children, parents and grandparents who engaged with the flag hunting fun, thank you for taking part, and for all of the nice things you have said.”

He added: “Some of the feedback has been simply wonderful, with nearly all the shops that joined in reporting great leaps in footfall.

“Numerous people have said they discovered shops they didn’t know existed, and a growing number of shops are reporting repeat visits by customers since the competition ended.

“I would like to thank Dennis at the town council, who came up with the original idea, the Chamber of Commerce, who jointly supported the competition, and Toymaster, who added some extra spending money to the second and third prizes.”

With the BID receiving dozens of letters requesting that the competition be run again next year, Mr Gordon confirmed that it would be.

President of the chamber Matt Pye added: “It has been great seeing the engagement of all the kids, and their families in town, and getting so much out of the competition. The chamber was proud to be associated with it.”