IT was a tough decision but eventually the winner of the regional sausage of the year was crowned. The theme for this year’s competition was Britain’s Magical Banger, so who better to judge than magician Paul Daniels and wife Debbie McGee.

The pair came to Southampton for the event as part of National Sausage Week, which has seen a nation-wide search for the best bangers.

After hundreds of entries an army of tasters whittled down the top four that were served up at Oxfords at Oxford Street.

The winning one was made by GM Matthews butchers from Bexhill who scored highly with his chilli inspired Devil’s Bite Sausage.

Runner-up was Simon Broadribb of Upton’s Butchers in Bassett. He said: “It’s a shame not to win, but these events are just a great opportunity to raise the profile of the products and meet up with other butchers.”

He added it was hard trying to come up with new flavour combinations but was pleased with his effort of pork with spinach and tomato.

Performer Paul, who prefers his barbecued, said: “We have been amazed at the quality and variety of sausages. I was brought up thinking a sausage was just a staple food but there is so much more you can do with them.”

Debbie, who likes to serve hers in a casserole with cider, added: “It has been great fun and really interesting to see what combinations people have come up with. Sausages are part of our heritage so it’s important to always buy British too.”

Fellow judge and owner of Oxford’s Simon Foderingham added: “We are very well endowed in Hampshire with some great produce that makes for some great sausages. The public loves sausages and they continue to be a favourite here on our menu.”

British Sausage Week, which runs all this week, is aimed at celebrating the taste, quality and diversity of the sausage of which there are some 400 varieties in Britain alone.

Along with a host of events taking part at supermarkets and butchers across the region, the campaign is encouraging families to get creative at home.