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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Schoolgirl lands sweet role
Kate Evans with her idea for a new lollipop
Sweet idea: Kate designed a lollipop which reveals a face
An eight-year-old schoolgirl has beaten off 2,000 young rivals to land a dream job as a part-time taster for one of the UK's biggest sweets firms.

Kate Evans, from Caerphilly in south Wales, will sample the wares of confectionery giants Swizzels Matlow for a year after designing a new lollipop.

Her design, which reveals a face as it is worn down, was chosen as one of six finalists by the firm, whose brand names include Love Hearts, Fizzers and Drumstick Lollipops.

However, the prize - presented as part of the company's 70th anniversary - has been branded "irresponsible" by a leading dentist.

Kate and the other five winners were given a tour of the firm's production line on Thursday, where they watched their creations being manufactured.

She has also been given "the honour of officially becoming a year-long Swizzels Matlow sweet taster".

Andrew Matlow, Swizzels Matlow's marketing development manager, said Kate would receive samples of the company's test products on three or four occasions during the year, so she could give her valued opinion on them.

We would not advocate a child having confectionery as its main diet
Andrew Matlow, Swizzels Matlow

But Stuart Geddis, director of British Dental Association Cymru/Wales, attacked the firm for offering the part-time roles to the youngsters.

"I think it is an appalling job to give to an eight-year-old," said Mr Geddis, who practises in Monmouthshire, .

"You are continually drip-feeding this child sugar products.

"To go around encouraging children to take into their mouths something which is going to do them long-term damage is irresponsible.

"Lollipops are probably the worst, because they are around for a long time."

But Mr Matlow defended the prize, saying it was important that sweets are taken in moderation.

"We would not advocate a child having confectionery as its main diet - I'm a father of two and I would not do allow that for my children," he said.

"A treat from time to time does way more good than harm."

"You don't just find sugar in sweets. It's a question of doing things in proportion."

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