AN online big-prize competition hit more controversy when one competitor almost pulled out after being subject to abusive messages via social media.

The Queen category of Angling Direct’s King of the Catch competition has been a section beset with problems.

The latest case follows on from earlier allegations of vote-rigging using online remote ‘bots’ – and someone being accused of cheating.

That led to the King of the Catch organisers issuing a statement assuring entrants that all votes were checked for their validity.

Now Kelly Crush, who has promised to donate any prize she wins to charity, has told how she received a torrent of online personal abuse.

She was even the brink of withdrawing from the King of the Catch’s Queen category.

Kelly was persuaded to stay in the contest by her husband… as pulling out would be giving in to the trolls and keyboard warriors.

Top female carper Kelly submitted a fine 53 lb carp she landed on a fishing trip to France. It soon reached third place behind the catfish of Chelsie Aldridge and fellow carper Bex Nelson.

The clothing store manager from Tenterden, Kent, said: “It was always my intention to give any prize to charity although I decided not to announce that at first. But when I started to receive abusive messages I thought that revealing I was doing it for charity would silence the doubters.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong as the abuse if anything got worse, although I have also received loads of support. The names I have been called are shocking, and even my mum received abuse for backing me.

“I felt very harassed and wished I had never gone into the competition in the first place.

“I was very upset and wanted to withdraw, but my husband convinced me that to do so would be a win for the haters and as I had done nothing wrong I should continue.

“People seemed to think that I was somehow using the charity idea as an unfair way of gaining support but that was certainly not my intention – I am 100 per cent genuine.

“Contestants often enter things like running or cycling races and request donations for their charity of choice so to me this was no different.

“I chose the Make-A-Wish UK as it matches a seriously sick child with the prize on offer, in this case a wonderful fishing holiday, to make their dream come true. It is a cause very dear to my heart.”

Real story of King of the Catch carp entry

Kelly revealed more about herself and her big catch that was entered into the King of the Catch.

“The French carp I submitted was a PB, with my PB mirror in the UK 38 lb 4 oz. I started fishing as a girl with my dad mainly after pike,” said Kelly.

“As I grew older I got more into carp fishing and fish every week all year round come rain or shine, I also have a PB pike of 21 lb and catfish of 72 lb.

“There is a funny story attached to the French carp.  I was fishing with my husband and he was using an expensive drone I had bought him for Christmas… and it got stuck up a tree on the far side of the lake.

“While he was round there trying to retrieve it my rod went off and I hooked into the fish. I kept shouting for him to comeback but by the time he heard me and returned I had landed the fish.

“Luckily it was on my rod – not one of his.”

What is the King of the Catch?

The annual free-to-enter King of the Catch competition is divided into four categories, King, and Queen. For under 16s, there is a Prince and Princess. It’s online and is run by major fishing tackle chain, Angling Direct.

Any angler from any country able to enter a fish caught anywhere in the world, and the King of the Catch winners are selected by public vote on the website.

Voting finishes on September 30 after which the King of the Catch organisers scrutinise all the votes rejecting any that they think are not legitimate before announcing the winner.

The prizes for the winners are oversees fishing trips valued at £5,000, with this year’s Queen plus partner going to fish for salmon and sturgeon near Vancouver, Canada. Angling Direct tackle vouchers worth £1,000 go to the runners up.

As the clock ticks on who will win, Kelly had her own views as regards the Queen category.

Kelly commented: “I’m sure Chelsie (contender Chelsie Aldridge) is a fine catfish angler and she has submitted an unusual fish, but her vote is no doubt helped by the fact that her dad runs a catfish group on social media with over 5,000 members.

“I’ve suggested that if people don’t want to support me they vote for Bex (Nelson) who is currently in second place as she is a great carp angler and would be a worthy winner,” added the 36-year-old.

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