Campaigning parents honoured after death of daughter who ate Pret baguette

·4 min read

The parents of a teenager who died from an allergic reaction after eating a baguette said their OBEs were “medals of hope” in their campaign to overcome food allergies.

Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse received the royal honour during an investiture hosted by the Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

They dedicated their OBEs to their daughter Natasha and others with allergies who have died.

Mrs Ednan-Laperouse told the PA news agency: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fact that we lost our child, so it’s wonderful that we are here because this is a recognition of what we’ve done since we lost her.

“The driving force behind that was grief at first and it was hearing from so many people who were frightened – we were their worst scenario in their minds – and then also meeting and talking to many people who have also lost family members because of allergies.

“So these medals are for them, it’s not really for us.”

Natasha’s bereaved parents said they would be “toasting her tonight in heaven and looking up.”

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died in 2016 after eating a Pret a Manger baguette (Family Handout/PA)
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died in 2016 after eating a Pret a Manger baguette (Family Handout/PA)

The couple set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation in their daughter’s memory and campaigned for a change in the law because Natasha was unaware the baguette she ate contained sesame seeds.

Natasha died on July 17 2016, aged 15, after eating a Pret a Manger artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette before boarding a flight at Heathrow with her father and best friend.

A coroner concluded that she would not have eaten the baguette if the seeds – to which she was severely allergic – had been included on the label.

Natasha’s Law came into force across the UK in October and requires all food retailers to display full ingredient and allergen labelling on every food item made on the premises and pre-packed for direct sale, including sandwiches, cakes and salads.

Mr Ednan-Laperouse said receiving his honour was a “bittersweet” moment.

He said: “These are not the medals of sorrow – solely of sorrow for what has come to pass – but actually, the medals of hope for what has yet to come.

“And the shining glimmer of that metal will be our armour as we move forward and we rally to overcome allergies, particularly food allergies which kill a lot of people.”

Mr Ednan-Laperouse said part of he and his wife’s campaigning work included meeting with bosses of big food companies and telling them: “To solve this problem, you have to step forth and actually become a participant in the solution.

“The country has to change otherwise there are people dying every month in the UK from food allergy.”

Mrs Ednan-Laperouse also highlighted the importance of medical research, ahead of Natasha’s Foundation’s first major research trial.

She said: “When Natasha was little, we knew she had all these allergies and it just didn’t feel like there was any hope. There was just no information. And we just got on. But it was hard.

Tanya Ednan-Laperouse and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse after receiving OBEs from the Duke of Cambridge during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle
Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse after receiving OBEs during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

“After the inquest, we were asked the question, ‘What would you like to do going forward?’ And it was just clear as day – it’s medical research. That’s what’s been lacking.”

Mrs Ednan-Laperouse said research could lead to “solutions in our lifetimes” to stop people from being born with allergies or change allergy sufferers’ immune systems to stop serious reactions.

Mr and Mrs Ednan-Laperouse described the investiture ceremony as “magical”.

They said William had been “just as charming as we thought he’d be.”

“He said he was extremely sorry about what had happened, but absolutely incredible what we’re doing,” Mrs Ednan-Laperouse said.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
The Duke of Cambridge awards OBEs to Mr and Mrs Ednan-Laperouse at Windsor Castle (Yui Mok/PA)

She added: “It went too quickly, it was just absolutely lovely.”

Other high-achievers who received honours at Tuesday’s ceremony included Poirot actor Sir David Suchet, who was knighted for services to drama and charity; 102-year-old honorary Magic Circle vice president Henry Lewis, who collected an MBE; and Sergeant Michael Hooper and Pc Stephen Quartermain, who were awarded Queen’s Gallantry Medals for their for efforts to save five people killed in a 2018 Leicester helicopter crash.

Actor and playwright Arinze Kene, who is currently starring as Reggae pioneer Bob Marley in the West End musical Get Up, Stand Up, did not attend the investiture to collect his MBE for unknown reasons.

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