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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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School sports day ban for Carlisle's Olympic Games starter

Olympic Games chief starter Alan Bell has been banned from firing a pistol at a school sports day because the gunshot could “frighten” the children.

Alan Bell photo
Alan Bell

Alan Bell, 61, of Wetheral, was invited to Gartocharn Primary School in Dunbartonshire as a special treat for children keen to get into the spirit of the Olympics.

But spoilsports from the council’s executive health and safety department banned him from firing a pistol at the event amid fears it would startle the children.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s bizarre solution was to play a recording of a starting pistol but it was eventually agreed that Mr Bell could use a klaxon instead.

Parents of pupils at the school have branded the ruling “ridiculous” and accused the local authority of “tying themselves in knots”.

Mr Bell will fire the starting gun for the highest profile events at this summer’s London Olympics, including the 100m and 400m.

Mr Bell has clocked up over 25,000 race starts and famously false-started world’s fastest man Usain Bolt at the athletics World Championships last year.

Mr Bell had agreed to start the primary school race as he has family near the Scottish village, and had previously officiated at hundreds of school events.

A spokesman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “A klaxon was used because it was felt a gunshot might frighten some of the nursery children. The event was still a huge success.”

Mr Bell was unavailable for comment.

Have your say

HSE gets blamed for everything, it is more likely that the insurance to cover him firing a gun was high and is why it was banned. This often happens with local councils and then they blame it on health and safety, which just give it a bad name.

Posted by Gemma on 4 July 2012 at 15:35

I would be very surprised if the decision was made by any health and safety professional - crazy decision. Even the Health and Safety Executive have made a statement to the same effect on their website!

Posted by David Newsum on 4 July 2012 at 14:00

View all 26 comments on this article

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