ONE OF the central characters of the Vale of Evesham asparagus celebrations has been using her talents to predict what the year ahead holds at home and abroad.

A record number of Royal births; flooding in the UK at the start of the year; earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the globe; a new British Prime Minister; Oscar success for British films and one particular British actor and political scandals are just a few of the forecasts being made by Asparamancer Jemima Packington.

As a well-known member of the Asparagus Festival team, she uses her skills each New Year to read the patterns left when asparagus spears are thrown into the air – revealing what the year ahead has to offer at home and around the world.

Miss Packington, sometimes known as “Mystic Veg”, is thought to be the only asparamancer in the world and began making predictions aged about eight – a gift she says she inherited from one of her relatives who used to read tea leaves.

She does predictions all year round, including during the Asparagus Festival events from April 23 to June 21 and for private individuals, and has been doing the ones at New Year for the past seven or eight years despite the fact that she has to use imported asparagus. She admits her forecasts do tend to be more accurate when she is able to use Vale of Evesham asparagus in season.

She said she started doing the New Year ones as a result of requests from the national press and has done numerous TV appearances as a result.

“I take what I do seriously but I never take myself seriously. When I cast the asparagus, it creates patterns and it is the patterns I interpret.”

For this annual exercise, she chooses a number of topics which are of general interest to the public and sees what comes up.

Originally from Pershore but now living in Bath, Miss Packington has 15 major predictions this year which also include:

• USA will bring us all to the brink of serious conflict if successful intervention by the rest of the world cannot be achieved. Watch out for unlikely peacemakers.

• A very successful showbiz mogul will diversify from his normal sphere of interest to become the next Cameron Mackintosh much to everyone’s surprise.

• No major sporting achievements for our National Teams.

• 2018 will be the year of reconciliations.

• Brexit will cause many countries outside the EU to review their border and immigration policies.

• The Bitcoin bubble will burst.

• Major world economies will suffer a downturn but will rally slightly before year’s end.

• 2018 will see a resurgence of the book as opposed to cyber libraries and video gaming.

• More countries around the world will follow the Danish ethos of Hygge - or contentment and wellness of spirit and body. A significant return to family values will be seen.