Alastair Stewart OBE puts participants through their paces at pancake race bootcamp ahead of Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race on Shrove Tuesday

Alastair Stewart and Lucrezia Millarini of the media team. Credit: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

It was a case of no-pancake-spared in Westminster on Tuesday morning as participants from the Parliament and Media Teams faced off for the first time in a pancake-tossing “bootcamp”, ahead of the 21st annual Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race.

The race, which is supported by Lyle’s Golden Syrup, will take place in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, on Shrove Tuesday, February 13 from 10am.

With both sides trying to out-psych the other with their fancy flipping manoeuvres, and the Media Team keen to ensure that MPs do not score a hat-trick following their successive victories in 2016 and 2017, the scene is set for a no-holds-barred scramble at this year’s event.

This morning’s bootcamp was carefully overseen by race veteran and this year’s Official Starter, ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart OBE. Representing the two teams in this year’s race bootcamp were Tonia Antoniazzi MP representing the Parliament Team and ITV News’ Lucrezia Millarini, representing the Media Team.

Unseemly Gestures

Alastair Stewart OBE carefully instructed the team representatives on the Race Rules of Engagement which include pans not being used to make unseemly gestures and pancakes not being used as projectiles. Participants also cannot simply just “flip and run” – they must continue to toss the pancakes throughout their lap to a minimum height of three feet.

The relay race is one of London’s must-see annual attractions. It draws hundreds of Londoners and tourists who flock to see the runners dress up in pinnies and chefs’ hats to raise awareness of the important work carried out by the Rehab disability charity.

Rehab provides training, employment, health and social care services to more than 6,000 disabled people and those at a disadvantage in the labour market. Members of the public wishing to support the work of Rehab’s brain injury services across the UK can visit www.parliamentarypancakerace.co.uk to donate.

Alastair Stewart OBE said: “As a previous member of the Media Team, I have been jostled by peers, tripped by MPs and sledged by Parliamentary supporters. In fact, I have flirted with a coronary. So, this year I am relieved to be able to hang up my hat and apron to be the Race Official Starter. This way, I get the pride of place, prestige, and the power of high office without the aching lungs and sore feet. Of course, notwithstanding attempts by some of my colleagues to curry favour and tug on my media heart-strings, I can assure all participants of my total impartiality. I will broach no cheating from any quarter and will call out the bad while praising the good. Of course, while only one team can be awarded the Magnificent Tin Cup, there are no losers at the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race. It’s all just a bit of fun for the great cause which is Rehab.”

Have MPs got the “Eggs-Factor”?

Tonia Antoniazzi MP (Gower) of the Parliamentary team with team mascots Jacob Baxter and Grace Bowers (both aged 8). Credit: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

MPs having previously savoured the sweet taste of victory in 2016 and 2017, Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower, is keen to play her part in helping to make it three-in-a-row: “It’s not too often MPs and Lords come together to be in the same place. However, this year I’m delighted that members of both Houses are making common cause in support of the Rehab charity by creating a Parliament Team that will be simply unbeatable. So often we have to walk on egg shells when it comes to our media friends. They love nothing more than to leave us with egg on our faces. Well, this race is the one sure-fire opportunity that we have to show them that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be! I am confident that we will continue to have the ‘eggs-factor’ and secure the pancake race triple crown for the Houses of Parliament.”

This is the first cap for the Media Team for ITV news presenter, Lucrezia Millarini. She is confident that the Media Team’s fitness and agility, and weeks of training in fine-tuning the perfect pancake toss, will reap dividends. She said: “For weeks now, the Media Team has been undergoing intensive tossing training ahead of this year’s race. Having not won the race for three years, and missed out on having our pancake and eating it each time, we’re quite clearly the hungrier team. While the Parliament Team may say they are in a league of their own, they are all talk. We are all action. We have youth and stamina on our side, not to mention the energy, zing, and get-up-and-go, to stay the course. Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We will prevail and there won’t be anything fake about it!”

Gerald Mason, Senior Vice President, Tate & Lyle Sugars, has the perfect pancake topping: “We are absolutely delighted to sponsor the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race. Lyle’s Golden Syrup, made in the same East London factory since 1883, is one of the nation’s favourite kitchen staples. As the sticky-but-worth-it perfect pancake topping, we are very excited to have the opportunity to join the pancake-flipping fun. It is wonderful to be able to support a charity which has been providing care and support to those living with the effects of acquired brain injury, getting them back on their feet and back to work,” he added.

For the latest updates on the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race, visit www.parliamentarypancakerace.co.uk, or follow on Facebook and Twitter @Flip4Rehab using the hashtag #RehabPancakeRace

Highlights from Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race 2017 below: