MPs, Lords and Media Teams Steel Themselves for Annual Showdown
What: Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race, Westminster
Who: MPs, Lords and members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery
When: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 10.00am
Where: Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster
Why: It's all a bit of good olde-fashioned flipping fun to raise awareness of the needs of people living with brain injury, mental health issues and a wide range of disabilities
A Great Spectacle
Tourists mark it in their itinerary as a London tradition and a vacation must-see. Taxi drivers doing a drive-past tell their customers who think it's a tall tale. Parliamentary researchers place bets on which team will emerge the strongest of heart and fleetest of foot. And everyone within the hallowed walls of Westminster is asking the simple question, "how do you flip yours?" It can only be the annual Parliamentary Pancake Race organised by Rehab – now in its 17th year – which has been officially launched by the 2014 Official Starter, ITV News's Nina Hossain. Rehab Group in the UK provides life-changing care, rehabilitation and training services to over 60,000 people with disabilities, people with brain injuries and people with mental health difficulties each year.
The challenge takes place at 10am on March 4 – Shrove Tuesday – in the shadows of the Houses of Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster. It is among the noblest traditions of Parliament which each year sees MPs, Lords and media line out against each other in a fight to the finish line for the honour and the glory of holding the much sought-after Magnificent Tin Cup.
Given that the MPs team has won the gripping contest for the past two years, they are going all out to make it a triple crown according to Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge: "We have been rising an extra hour early for the past month to ensure that we are in tip-top shape. For the past two years, we have glided home past the finish line with great flipping style and panache and, this year, with the prospect of a three-in-a-row tantalisingly close, we're not going to let the opportunity slip out of our pans. People expect their MPs to lead by example, and we're not about to let them down now."
They will have their work cut out though as the Lords and media teams are leaving no stone unturned or pancake unflipped in their quest to find the MPs' Achilles heel. "Revenge is sweet. The Lords got pipped at the post last year so lessons have been learnt!" says Lord St John of Bletso. "We believe that we have clearly identified a winning formula and are determined to ensure that the Lords will reign supreme once more and regain their rightful place. This year, using a new top-secret material for our pinnies, we will be victorious!"
The media, meanwhile has been carefully monitoring the to-ings and fro-ings of the MPs. Channel 4 News Political Editor, Gary Gibbon, notes, "I thought Parliament was empty because of lack of bills but I suspect MPs are sneaking off to practise their flipping skills. We will be reporting it to the Committee on Pancake Standards in Public Life. The pressure is intense and their nerves may be cracking. Victory will be ours on Pancake Tuesday."
No Funny Business
Nina Hossain, ITV News newscaster and the race's Official Starter will have her work cut out to ensure adherence to the Rules of Engagement. "I intend to run a very tight ship and will brook no trickery and deception. I've heard all about the greasing of frying pans, the tying of shoe laces and the cutting of corners and there will be no such mischief on my watch! But seriously, this race is just a bit of fun and I'm very much looking forward to the spectacle. It's all to promote the work of Rehab, whose staff do great work across the UK to support people on the margins of our society to enhance the quality of their lives and to achieve their dreams. As for the race, may the best team win!"
For more on the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race, visit www.parliamentarypancakerace.co.uk.