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August 14, 2009

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Britain's embassies get wacky requests

IT was one of the more unusual requests - but by no means the only weird plea for help that British embassies have received.

A British woman who had gone abroad for breast-enlarging surgery was unhappy with the results and wanted the Foreign Office to step in.

As did a mother in Florida who asked the consulate to help her teenage son pack his suitcase and drop him to the airport because he was feeling sick.

In a round-up of jaw-dropping calls to consulates by Britons abroad, the Foreign Office lists requests like how to control unruly children, what's the weather going to be like and how to make home-made jam.

"We can't tell you who is allowed to use your swimming pool, pay your taxi fares for you - or do anything about the exchange rate," said Juliet Maric at the British Consul in Alicante, Spain.

British consulates have a network of 261 branches globally and are there to help UK travelers stay safe abroad and provide help if something goes wrong.

But some of the requests they receive hardly fall into those categories.

"We regularly get enquiries from people who think we're a one-stop-shop for any problem they might encounter abroad," said Maric.

Minister for Consular Affairs Chris Bryant said: "Consular staff are there to help Britons in real difficulty abroad - from victims of crime and bereaved families to those involved in accidents or who have lost their passports.

"It's important that British nationals understand what the Foreign Office can and can't do for them so our staff can focus resources on more serious situations where people really do need our help."


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