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Virgin Mobile today managed to net its world record for getting the most mobile phones to ring in unison.

Despite the rain, 254 people took a break from their lunchtime activities to stand in Leicester Square and download the Pearl & Dean tune onto their phones.

With the help of TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, they all blasted the tune out at 1pm, much to the annoyance of passers-by and the odd bedraggled pigeon.

This was quickly followed by those taking part scuttling off to shelter from the downpour - although the free Virgin T-shirts came in useful for keeping heads dry, especially for those who had sensibly kept the plastic wrappers on.

A cheer went up from the Virgin Mobile camp as a representative from The Guinness Book of Records declared 'The Big Ring' was indeed a world record.

There had been worries that Virgin had already been beaten to it - last May more than 800 Fins gathered at the Helsinki Tähtitorninmäki Park to play the same ring tone.

But no official from the Guinness Book of Records had been present to record the event. Plus, it was actually a single that had been released by a Finnish pop band as a mobile phone ring tone, so it didn't count, Virgin Mobile representative Steven Day was quick to point out today.

Whatever. Virgin is still laughing all the way to the bank. It reckons the ringtone business is estimated to be worth around £700 million worldwide - and £3.6 million in London alone, and used today's event to launch its own ringtone and graphics service. ®

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