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Canterbury mum backs Teal Pumpkin Project for Halloween trick or treaters with allergies


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A mum-of-two is turning her pumpkins blue for Halloween as part of a push to make trick-or-treating safer for children with allergies.

Zoe Williams, a food allergy blogger from Littlebourne, wants the Teal Pumpkin Project to catch on in the hope other parts of Canterbury will turn blue on October 31.

Launched in the US in 2014 and the UK two years later, the campaign aims to make the spooky holiday fun for everyone and to make sure no youngsters miss out.

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Zoe Williams with her daughter Kayleigh and their teal pumpkins
Zoe Williams with her daughter Kayleigh and their teal pumpkins

Former teacher Mrs Williams says she was inspired to get involved after seeing her daughters, Kayleigh, seven, and Ellie, four, miss out due to their food intolerances and allergies.

"In the past when they've gone out trick or treating, they get back and I have to read every packet to make sure there are no allergens and usually I have to take half of it away and swap it with something else," she said.

"With the Teal Pumpkin Projects it's quite simple; you buy non-food treats like pencils, balloons, stickers or bubbles - inexpensive things you find in a party bag - and food treats with no allergens, paint a pumpkin teal and put it in your window.

Zoe Williams with her daughter Kayleigh and their teal pumpkins
Zoe Williams with her daughter Kayleigh and their teal pumpkins

"That way people with children with allergies know they can come to you.

"It's a really good way to raise awareness and it means that kids with celiac, diabetes and allergies can get involved.

"It makes me sad that some children get left out - social exclusion is a big issue for those with allergies because they often can't join in activities with their friends."

Mrs Williams, who lives in The Elders with her daughters and software developer husband Chris, says one in 13 children in the UK suffer from a diagnosed food allergy and the number is increasing rapidly.

"This is equivalent to about two in every school classroom," she said.

Zoe Williams will display a teal pumpkin and poster in her window at Halloween
Zoe Williams will display a teal pumpkin and poster in her window at Halloween

The 36-year-old, who launched her blog My Allergy Kitchen in January to provide information to others in her situation, says allergic reactions can range from mild to life-threatening.

In August, Sadie Bristow, nine, from Chartham, died after suffering an allergic reaction.

The talented tennis player, who had a dairy intolerance, went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed to St George’s Hospital in London, but despite the efforts of doctors, she did not recover.

"It's really shocking when you hear things like this and shows how serious it can be," said Mrs Williams.

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