Girl, 7, misses Little Mix gig she waited two years for after severe reaction
A "heartbroken" seven-year-old girl excited to see Little Mix ended up missing the concert after becoming violently sick just minutes before it started.
Imogen Holmes was waiting for her favourite band to take to the AO Manchester Arena stage when she suffered a severe gluten reaction.
The youngster, who has coeliac disease, had visited Pizza Express with her mum, cousin and auntie just before the concert before falling ill just an hour later.
It was the first time the family had been able to meet up since Imogen's nan passed away from cancer.
Mum Louise is certain her daughter was handed food containing gluten before her two-hour ordeal.
Louise, 39, who lives in Rossendale, Lancashire, said: "Minutes before the group came onstage Imogen grabbed my arm and told me she was going to be sick. I knew instantly she had been given food containing gluten.
"Within an hour of consuming the food Imogen became violently sick. We were stuck in the arena toilets unable to leave as she could not stop being sick.
"I managed to get my sister to go to the St. John Ambulance staff who gave us a sick bag so we could get her back to the hotel.
"On coming out of the arena we had to stop on the stairs while she was being sick again.
"A member of staff came over and helped me get Imogen into a black cab back to the hotel. Once we got back to the hotel she just collapsed in exhaustion."
Vigilant mum Louise says she informed the restaurant of her daughter's allergy at the point of booking and upon arrival at the restaurant, something Pizza Express say they are now investigating.
Her daughter Imogen needs to carry a packed lunch with her wherever she goes due to the difficulties of finding gluten-free meals and has now been left covered in hives following the ordeal.
She added: "We had planned the girls day, including staying in a hotel for the night after the concert to make it extra special for them. We unfortunately lost my mum during Covid and this was the first thing we were doing together as a close family without her.
"We are all still in shock over the events that took place on Saturday, luckily Imogen is starting to recover from the extreme fatigue she is suffering due to the autoimmune response her body has had to fight."
Mum Louise shared the events to her Instagram page, which quickly amassed hundreds of likes, with Little Mix fans commenting messages of support and tagging the band to catch their attention after Imogen missed the entire concert.
Since then, they have been contacted by the band's management offering them free tickets to their final performance at London's O2.
Following the events, Louise said: "It is so important to raise awareness - it should be a human right to be able to eat without fear.
"It has always been a challenge for us, we can't just go into a restaurant last minute, and that whole experience has been taken away from us because of a medical necessity.
"It's important to make people aware how easily and quickly everything can go wrong. Being able to eat out somewhere is still such a risk, we can't just pop in somewhere off the cuff, we have to call first and make sure they can accommodate my daughter's needs.
"Imogen was devastated and heartbroken to miss the concert, we wanted to make it as memorable for her and her cousin as possible. When she heard that we had been given tickets to see them in London, she was screaming and just couldn't believe it."
Although it cannot yet be proven that Imogen's reaction came from dining at Pizza Express, the restaurant chain have confirmed they are investigating the matter.
A spokesperson said: "I can confirm that this case, since the 7th is being looked into in detail in line with the company’s health and safety procedures.
"The company take matters such as this very seriously and have strict investigation protocols to deal with such incidents."
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