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Student charity wheelbarrow event cancelled as organisers say it has become 'unsafe'

Pimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Pimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya Duncan

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A long-running student charity wheelbarrow event in Norwich has been cancelled after organisers said it had become "unsafe".

Pimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya DuncanPimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya Duncan

The annual Pimp my Barrow event, run by the University of East Anglia Students' Union (UEASU), sees thousands of students in fancy dress take decorated wheelbarrows around the city in the name of charity.

Since it began in 2006, it has raised thousands of pounds for the Norfolk-based cancer charity the Big C, and is a popular feature in the student calendar.

But it has attracted criticism from residents along its route in the past, and last year the event - traditionally a pub crawl - was moved to Earlham Park, after feedback from pubs.

But on Thursday, April 25, the UEASU said they had decided to call off the event - but hoped it could return in 2020.

Pimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya DuncanPimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya Duncan

In a lengthy Facebook post, they said: “We love what the event represents and the impact it has for the charity The Big C, but the event has grown to a size where in its current format it has become unsafe for you, our members.”

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They said they had worked with an external events coordinator, who had raised concerns.

“It wouldn't be possible for us as an organisation that runs the biggest licensed venue in the city to facilitate an event which has the potential to break so many of the rules which govern the way we do business,” the statement said.

Pimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya DuncanPimp My Barrow in 2017. The event has been cancelled for 2019. Photo: Sonya Duncan

They said they understood it had been a frustrating wait for students, but said they hoped the break would enable them to “reimagine the event and get it right again”.

“We hope to be able to bring PMB back in 2020 when we've managed to iron out the problems, we need your help in making that happen and hope a number of people will get involved in planning that event,” they said.

“We know that for some people this will be a really disappointing message to read and for a number of people involved in the SU we'll really miss the colourful, amazing costumes – we'll make sure all the other events we put on this semester are truly wonderful and hope we capture some of that PMB magic elsewhere.”

Responding to a student asking for clarification, the UEASU later said money did play a factor, saying they “wouldn't have been able to put on the same event that students love with the resources we have”.

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