Ottery Tar Barrels: Burn claimant’s mum speaks

THE mum of a burns victim whose compensation claim could kill Ottery’s Tar Barrels says her son doesn’t want to end the 200-year-old tradition.

In a 30-minute phone call which the Herald hopes could help save the cherished November 5 spectacular, she said organisers aren’t to blame for the criminal act that injured her son last year.

The mum, who wants to remain anonymous, was shocked and said her family was totally unaware the event faces paying the price.

She revealed her son, who currently is travelling in Asia, has no idea his single claim could see the Barrels’ insurance premium rocket to �25,000 and said: “There is no way we want the event to stop… he’d be upset if he knew.”

Her son, a landscape gardener, wants compensation over lost wages after burns to his hand meant he couldn’t work for a month. The mum vowed to contact him and alert him to the Barrels’ potential plight, but doesn’t know if he will change his mind. She added he had been left scarred by the burn suffered when an unknown culprit threw an incendiary into a barrel last November, causing an explosion that injured spectators.

The mum told the Herald: “I can’t talk for my son, but I do know he didn’t want to see the end of the Tar Barrels- and I don’t. We really don’t want the event to finish. He didn’t think the claim would end it- no way. I’m very sorry all round, and am absolutely shocked.

“It’s a shame they haven’t caught that person so the claim could have gone against them. We would be seeking criminal damages.

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“We are traditionalists, and it’s a shame if insurance premiums go sky high because of a crime.

“It wasn’t the tar barrelers’ or organisers’ fault, it was the person who threw what-ever it was.

“Nobody on earth that night could have stopped someone doing that. It’s just one of those things that happened in a split second.

“But he (her son) did lose wages and is scarred. He’d be upset if he knew this... he could think about it, he is a sensible chap.

“I can’t speak for him when he’s miles away, but I do know he wouldn’t like the barrels to stop. It was his first time last year and he thoroughly enjoyed it up to that point.”