Disabled pensioner kicked-out of Dartford theatre

News Shopper: Thaya and Keith Littlewood Thaya and Keith Littlewood

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.

News Shopper:

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.

News Shopper:

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."

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:45pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Boris bighead says...

Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre.
Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre. Boris bighead
  • Score: -1

3:14pm Mon 16 Jun 14

reptiles says...

Boris bighead wrote:
Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre.
why??

The theatre was built by the council many many yrs ago and have tried to facilitate disabled people. There is 6 wheelchair bays for chairs & their carers, 3 either side of the theatre. The space is very small, but then when the theatre was built wheelchairs were far smaller and there were no such things as these large electric wheelchairs and scooters. Problem is often people that take people in wheelchairs - known as thier carers do NOT like to sit beside them - they want to sit next to the chair, it is impossible due to fire hazards etc. and Yes they do get dispensation as the carer does not pay for their seat as they are there to look after the disabled person, so yes you could say they get in FREE! Also i might add that the member of staff that spoke to them was a volunteer as the Orchard have lots of volunteers at the theatre which means they dont get paid, but they are there to make sure everyone is happy and that they are abiding by the HSE rules.
People have often asked for a lift to be put in the theatre, but where could they put a lift and there is no space upstairs for wheelchair access. Its a small local theatre that holds around 1000 people.
[quote][p][bold]Boris bighead[/bold] wrote: Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre.[/p][/quote]why?? The theatre was built by the council many many yrs ago and have tried to facilitate disabled people. There is 6 wheelchair bays for chairs & their carers, 3 either side of the theatre. The space is very small, but then when the theatre was built wheelchairs were far smaller and there were no such things as these large electric wheelchairs and scooters. Problem is often people that take people in wheelchairs - known as thier carers do NOT like to sit beside them - they want to sit next to the chair, it is impossible due to fire hazards etc. and Yes they do get dispensation as the carer does not pay for their seat as they are there to look after the disabled person, so yes you could say they get in FREE! Also i might add that the member of staff that spoke to them was a volunteer as the Orchard have lots of volunteers at the theatre which means they dont get paid, but they are there to make sure everyone is happy and that they are abiding by the HSE rules. People have often asked for a lift to be put in the theatre, but where could they put a lift and there is no space upstairs for wheelchair access. Its a small local theatre that holds around 1000 people. reptiles
  • Score: 7

3:16pm Mon 16 Jun 14

reptiles says...

anyways this is OLD news the incident they are talking about happened back in October 2013 - we are now in June!! Have the NS got nothing better to write about than to drag up old stories
anyways this is OLD news the incident they are talking about happened back in October 2013 - we are now in June!! Have the NS got nothing better to write about than to drag up old stories reptiles
  • Score: 6

5:28pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Gypo.Joe says...

It's about time we heard from the other wheel chair warrior ( Wayne ?? ), he never ever did get his steak and chips ya know.
It's about time we heard from the other wheel chair warrior ( Wayne ?? ), he never ever did get his steak and chips ya know. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 3

5:43pm Mon 16 Jun 14

reptiles says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
It's about time we heard from the other wheel chair warrior ( Wayne ?? ), he never ever did get his steak and chips ya know.
haha if i remember he was a pro at complaning which was all "make beleive stories" if its the same guy who wanted to sit upstairs in the restaurant because he felt downstairs was not good enough. Even ive eaten downstairs - yes i had to stand to eat lol! but i enjoyed my meal!!!
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: It's about time we heard from the other wheel chair warrior ( Wayne ?? ), he never ever did get his steak and chips ya know.[/p][/quote]haha if i remember he was a pro at complaning which was all "make beleive stories" if its the same guy who wanted to sit upstairs in the restaurant because he felt downstairs was not good enough. Even ive eaten downstairs - yes i had to stand to eat lol! but i enjoyed my meal!!! reptiles
  • Score: 2

6:17pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Gypo.Joe says...

I'm sure by now that clown has won the equivalent of the lottery with claims for all his imaginary discrimination. Probably sitting on some exotic beach getting BJs from some bimbo while drinking his pina coladas.
I'm sure by now that clown has won the equivalent of the lottery with claims for all his imaginary discrimination. Probably sitting on some exotic beach getting BJs from some bimbo while drinking his pina coladas. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 1

4:30pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Gin21 says...

reptiles wrote:
Boris bighead wrote:
Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre.
why??

The theatre was built by the council many many yrs ago and have tried to facilitate disabled people. There is 6 wheelchair bays for chairs & their carers, 3 either side of the theatre. The space is very small, but then when the theatre was built wheelchairs were far smaller and there were no such things as these large electric wheelchairs and scooters. Problem is often people that take people in wheelchairs - known as thier carers do NOT like to sit beside them - they want to sit next to the chair, it is impossible due to fire hazards etc. and Yes they do get dispensation as the carer does not pay for their seat as they are there to look after the disabled person, so yes you could say they get in FREE! Also i might add that the member of staff that spoke to them was a volunteer as the Orchard have lots of volunteers at the theatre which means they dont get paid, but they are there to make sure everyone is happy and that they are abiding by the HSE rules.
People have often asked for a lift to be put in the theatre, but where could they put a lift and there is no space upstairs for wheelchair access. Its a small local theatre that holds around 1000 people.
This appears to have been written by someone who perhaps works at the theatre. I would like to point out that where by the carer gets in for 'free' as you say. What about the people in the wheelchairs that have to pay for a full price ticket!!!! most of the time there is a poor view of the stage as they have to put up with giant speakers blocking their view and if you are unlucky enough to have to sit on the left hand side of the theatre you not only cannot see a proportion of the stage but you have to put up with seeing all the off stage goings on............it is time the Orchards started thinking about it customers and not how much money they can make, like introducing premium rate seating just because there is more leg room!!!!!!!!!
[quote][p][bold]reptiles[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Boris bighead[/bold] wrote: Shocking behaviour, people should boycott this theatre.[/p][/quote]why?? The theatre was built by the council many many yrs ago and have tried to facilitate disabled people. There is 6 wheelchair bays for chairs & their carers, 3 either side of the theatre. The space is very small, but then when the theatre was built wheelchairs were far smaller and there were no such things as these large electric wheelchairs and scooters. Problem is often people that take people in wheelchairs - known as thier carers do NOT like to sit beside them - they want to sit next to the chair, it is impossible due to fire hazards etc. and Yes they do get dispensation as the carer does not pay for their seat as they are there to look after the disabled person, so yes you could say they get in FREE! Also i might add that the member of staff that spoke to them was a volunteer as the Orchard have lots of volunteers at the theatre which means they dont get paid, but they are there to make sure everyone is happy and that they are abiding by the HSE rules. People have often asked for a lift to be put in the theatre, but where could they put a lift and there is no space upstairs for wheelchair access. Its a small local theatre that holds around 1000 people.[/p][/quote]This appears to have been written by someone who perhaps works at the theatre. I would like to point out that where by the carer gets in for 'free' as you say. What about the people in the wheelchairs that have to pay for a full price ticket!!!! most of the time there is a poor view of the stage as they have to put up with giant speakers blocking their view and if you are unlucky enough to have to sit on the left hand side of the theatre you not only cannot see a proportion of the stage but you have to put up with seeing all the off stage goings on............it is time the Orchards started thinking about it customers and not how much money they can make, like introducing premium rate seating just because there is more leg room!!!!!!!!! Gin21
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree