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Disabled pensioner kicked-out of Dartford theatre
A Bexleyheath pensioner has voiced her anger at being thrown out of Dartford's Orchard Theatre after being told that her paralysed husband's wheelchair was blocking an aisle.
Thaya and Keith Littlewood, both 61, of Igtham Road went to see New Jersey Nights at The Orchard Theatre in Home Gardens back in October last year - Keith, who is paralysed from the waist down, sat in his in a designated space and his wife, Thaya, who acts as his carer, sat behind him.
As the show started the couple were told by a member of staff that they were blocking an aisle and should move.
Mrs Littlewood said: "There was somebody with a great big electric wheelchair next to Keith and they weren't told to move - I just don't know why they waited until the show started to talk to us - I didn't want to cause a fuss while people where watching but the man was very rude to me he said, "you don't even pay for your seat" because I'm a carer."
During the interval the couple approached the manager to discuss the issue and were promptly asked to leave the venue without seeing the second half of the show.
Mrs Littlewood added: "We have asked to speak to the manager who was working that evening several times since and we have been told we can't.
"We have been offered free tickets to another show but I don't want tickets - I just want to know why someone was so rude to me.
"I want an apology."
The couple have since met with theatre director, Chris Glover and front of house managed, Zelda Kitto in a bid to solve the problem and discuss accessibility for disabled people at the venue and were offered complimentary tickets to see another show at the theatre.
A spokesman for the Orchard Theatre said: "During this meeting The Orchard Theatre were able to firstly apologise that the customers had not had a positive experience when visiting the venue whilst listening to the feedback and advice that they offered in regards to improving access at the venue in the future.
"Mr and Mrs Littlewood were also invited to the theatre’s access forum – which is held annually to discuss accessibility issues and improvements openly with customers. This invitation was declined.
"The Orchard Theatre operates a continuous Customer Service Programme to ensure that all employees are fully informed and able to offer the highest level of service across all its operations and regularly receives positive feedback from customers on its staff.
"The Orchard Theatre is committed to ensuring each area of its service standards is consistently improved and places a high consideration in meeting the needs of customers, including those with access requirements.
"The evenings Duty Manager is a casual member of staff and for this reason it has been more difficult to facilitate this meeting. Although we do apologise for the time it has taken to arrange this meeting, once this had been brought to the Theatre Director’s attention he immediately contacted the customers about this."
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