FRANCESCA WADE, the Tonbridge schoolgirl who won an award for her short story about a ‘fatberg’, was treated to a close encounter with the offending item as a prize.
The seven-year-old pupil at Hilden Oaks entered BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words storywriting competition with her tale of unhealthy eating.
‘Agent Ramsbottom and the Mysterious Fish and Chips’ is a humorous account of a police force staffed by babies who crack down on bad diets in an obese society.
The detective goes ‘underground’ to investigate the cause of a fatberg, a modern phenomenon where fatty deposits block sewage systems.
After she won a bronze award from among more than 135,000 entries, Francesca was invited by Thames Water to visit the remains of the Whitechapel fatberg, which have been put on display at The Museum of London.
The utilities company also offered to make an animated film of Francesca’s story, but this was not permitted by the BBC because it cannot be linked with a profit-making company.
According to her mum Sharon, Thames Water were ‘delighted that the story had raised awareness of this key environmental issue’.
Francesca was given a personal guided tour by the exhibition curator, where she learned that the original fatberg weighed over 130 tonnes and was 250 metres long.
All that remains of this blockage is a 5kg slab in a display case. The rest has been turned into bio-fuel to keep London’s buses running.
Mrs Wade said: ‘When face to face with the fatberg, Francesca was surprised at how solid and stone-like it appeared.
‘She said, ‘I expected it to be more squishy and slimy, but it is still gross!”
Mrs Wade, who is Deputy Headteacher at Hilden Oaks, said: ‘I was very proud of the way she engaged with the science of the fatberg as Andy, the curator, told her all about saponification and the reason why it is so solid.’
Francesca also received a ‘goodie bag’ containing a T-shirt bearing the slogan Don’t Feed The Fatberg, a soft toy rat, a book called Bedtime Stories For Rebel Girls and peppermint candy canes.
PICTURE: CROSS-SECTION OF SOCIETY: Francesca with the London Museum’s slice of fatberg