14/08/2014 12:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Boy, 6, Choked On Boiled Sweet Given By Store Assistant

Waitrose apologises after boy, 6, choked on boiled sweet

A six-year-old boy nearly choked to death on a boiled sweet given to him by a store assistant in Waitrose.

Charlie Phipps was given the chunky orange treat without his mother's permission. A few minutes later Charlie's mother Rebecca saw him gasping for air and cried out for help - only for staff to tell her that none of them knew first aid.

It was only as Charlie's skin turned white and clammy that an unknown passerby stepped in and saved his life.

The customer lay the struggling youngster on the supermarket floor before managing to dislodge the sweet which had became firmly stuck in his throat.

Charlie's mum told of the horrifying incident at a branch of Waitrose in Daventry, Northants.

She said: "It was terrifying - he was moments from dying there in front of me.

"We had only been going round the store like we usually do when I looked down and he had his mouth wide open and was struggling to talk and breathe.

"He was trying to say something and I just about managed to make out the word 'sweet'.

"I shouted for help but no-one at the counter could do anything, there was no first aid kit available at all. "It was so lucky, there was a lady who just came out of nowhere and took charge.

"She said she ran a nursery, she was brilliant, she laid him down and eventually managed to dislodge the sweet. "All the staff could do was ask if they should call an ambulance.

"But I can't imagine what would have happened if that lady wasn't there. He was surely just minutes from death.

"She is mine and Charlie's absolute hero. We were so lucky, and the store was lucky, that she was there."

She added: "I asked Charlie how he got the orange sweet and he told me he had asked for it, he was just handed it by a member off staff, not even checking if it was OK with me.

"There was no way I would have given permission - they are adult sweets and I still chop his grapes up for him."

Waitrose branch manager Stephen Walker issued an apology to the family.

He said: "We are very sorry this happened. We've spoken to Charlie's mother to apologise personally.

"Handing out boiled sweets was an error of judgement and we've taken action to make absolutely sure this won't happen again."


Waitrose contacted Parentdish and a spokesperson said:

"We have carried out a full investigation at the branch. A customer did not dislodge the sweet - Charlie was given a drink of water by a Waitrose Partner (employee) and fortunately he swallowed the sweet.

"We do have a first aid kit and the Branch Manager is trained in first aid through St John's Ambulance - he came to help as soon as he was alerted."

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