‘Pushy’ Fergie reveals fight to change law – ‘I kept thinking of Beatrice and Eugenie’

The Duchess of York, who herself is a mother to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, has opened up about how she first met the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse as they flew back to the UK with their daughter’s body. Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, collapsed on a British Airways flight from London to Nice in France in July, 2016. The youngster had suffered a severe allergic reaction after eating a sandwich that contained traces of sesame seeds on a flight to Nice, France, with her father and her best friend. She and her father had checked the label but it did not mention sesame seeds to which she was violently allergic.

I just felt so much pain for you

Sarah Ferguson

The schoolgirl was given CPR for around 50 minutes on the flight after two EpiPens and an adrenalin injection failed to halt symptoms that caused a cardiac arrest.

Mrs Ferguson confirmed she was on the same British Airways flight as the girl’s grief-stricken parents Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperous after they had flown out to be with their daughter in a hospital in Nice.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning alongside Natasha’s parents, Mrs Ferguson said: “I was going through the airport and I heard them really crying and rather than saying ‘oh I will just walk on’, I was so worried and didn’t know what had happened.

“And then on the aeroplane, I was sitting right behind them so I put my hand rather rudely over the top. I just said ‘I am so sorry but I have just got to know, is there anything I can do?’

“I just felt so much pain for you.”

Mr Ednan-Laperouse had explained to the Duchess that his daughter’s coffin was in the hold of the British Airways flight.

Mrs Ferguson added: “As a mother, I just went ‘oh my gosh, right, ok. What can we do?’

“And, actually, funnily enough, Tanya and Nadim just actually wanted to talk about Natasha.

“And so in fact what I really think we talked about as well is just listening sometimes.

“I just kept my hand there. I was so pushy. But actually, for Natasha’s sake and sitting here today, thank heavens we were really. I just kept thinking of Beatrice and Eugenie. I kept thinking ‘I don’t – no’.”

Natasha’s mother Tanya said the discussion with Mrs Ferguson “made the journey bearable”, adding: “We had asked to find out, every BA plane has space for one coffin in the hold, and we didn’t know where it was.

“And they told us that actually, she is right under your seat. And we had just found that out. And I actually didn’t know how I was going to get through that journey going home.

“To be able to talk to you about her and we talked about memories and we talked about Natasha and it was really lovely.”

Mrs Ferguson has been working closely with the family ever since to promote clearer labelling on food products.

Natasha’s parents joined Mrs Ferguson on the show to discuss the importance of clear food labelling for allergy sufferers.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove introduced a bill this week, known as ‘Natasha’s Law’, which will protect allergy sufferers by requiring all food businesses to label the ingredients in pre-packaged food.

Natasha’s Law is set to come into force before summer 2021 and will require in law all pre-packaged food to contain a full list of ingredients.

Natasha’s Law will close a “loophole” to require complete ingredient and allergen information on pre-packaged food made on or near the premises selling it.

Natasha had been on a flight on her way to a four-day break in France with her father Nadim and her best friend when the tragedy unfolded after eating a sandwich from Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.

Speaking last year following the inquest, her father said in a statement: “[She told me] ‘Daddy, I’m not feeling well’ and she lifted up her top and she displayed these red welts like lacerations which I had not seen before, but I understood something unbelievable was going on.”

She was rushed to the toilets, where her father applied two EpiPens.

The statement continued: “Natasha said that she still couldn’t breathe and desperately looked at me, she said ‘Daddy, help me, I can’t breathe’.”

As hope began to fade that Natasha would survive in hospital, her father put a phone to her ear so her mother and brother could say goodbye.

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