To the patriots of Bromham, a hearty English breakfast seemed the perfect way to celebrate St George's Day. Some 300 villagers were planning to tuck in to the fry-up in their community centre. But yesterday's charity event was cancelled at the last minute - because of a health and safety warning against frying eggs. The local council's guidelines state that volunteers should not prepare "protein-based foods" without proper training. Furthermore, the centre did not have the correct facilities to "chill, prepare and store" the food. Faced with not being able to serve eggs, cheese or milk, organisers abandoned the event.
They had been hoping to raise 500 pounds for St Nicholas Primary School in the village near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Peter Wallis, 39, chairman of the school's parents and teachers association, said: "I was astonished to discover that we had to adhere to health and safety regulations to cook people breakfast. "We have to provide evidence that whoever is handling the food has been trained to do so. "We spoke to other schools in the area and decided that because people were not properly qualified in food preparation we had to cancel the event. "This is just plain daft. These breakfasts have been going on for many years and we've never poisoned anyone. "We are looking at sending some of our parents on training courses but with the turnover of members each year that could be too expensive."
The school, which has 85 pupils aged between four and 11, has held fundraising breakfasts for some 15 years. This year ten parents had promised to help cook and serve the fry-ups. School governors now fear the guidelines could lead to the cancellation of their summer fetes and Christmas parties. The events raise 2,500 pounds a year to be spent on books and teaching equipment.
Tory MP Philip Davies said the guidelines were "bonkers". "It is barmy that parents who want to celebrate St George's Day and raise a bit of money for their local school are prevented from doing so by ridiculous rules and regulations," he said. "Do mums and dads really need to spend valuable time learning how to fry an egg? I'm sure they do it most mornings without training. "These potty rules are one reason people are discouraged from celebrating St George's Day."
Mr Wallis, whose seven-year-old son Sam attends the school, added: "The regulations also say the eggs have to be chilled literally from when we buy them to when they are cooked to be eaten. "What we have done for years and years is to buy them and take them home overnight to someone's home but that is not allowed any more. "Keeping them at some parent's house overnight is not sufficient evidence they have been stored properly." Councillor Mark Baker, vice-chairman of education on Tory-held Wiltshire County Council, said the authority's health and safety guidelines were not legally-binding.
The breakfast rumpus is the latest in a string of healthy and safety controversies. Last week grandfather Brian Heale, 73, was ordered off a bus in Cardiff because he was carrying a tin of paint. Earlier this month a lifeguard instructor and her husband were banned from taking their three children into the toddlers' pool at Sedgemoor Splash in Bridgwater, Somerset. Keren and David Townsend were told their children needed individual supervision.
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