Woman refused access to popular West End show because they 'can't cater for wheelchair users' - MyLondon

2023-01-13 12:32:01 By : Ms. vivian he

EXCLUSIVE: Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird had booked the tickets as a surprise for her boyfriend on their anniversary

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Woman refused access to popular West End show because they

A woman was turned away from a theatre trip she had booked for her anniversary with her boyfriend because the venue could not cater access for wheelchair users. Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird, 26, bought the tickets as a surprise anniversary gift for her boyfriend, Andy McLoughlin, 25, and travelled over from Ireland on a detour for the couple's journey back to their home in Amsterdam.

Niamh was left 'upset' after being turned away from the venue and has had a huge reaction to her story on Twitter as people have called for accessibility in the capital to be a necessity. Niamh spoke to MyLondon about her experience with the Great Gatsby Immersive LDN show, located on Davies St in Mayfair.

She said: "When we got to the location I immediately saw the stairs leading to the venue and was like 'oh god, we're in trouble.' my boyfriend went inside to ask someone where there was wheelchair entry and at that point two staff members came out and told me there was no way in.

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"Even if there was the possibility of two very strong people carrying me in, it would have been a fire hazard if anything were to happen. The staff members were lovely and they were very apologetic, but I understand that they couldn't really do anything about the situation right there and then. I was very upset."

Niamh shared her experience on Twitter and received a mass response from people who had gone through similar experiences or were outraged to hear that she had been turned away.

She continued: "When I tweeted it out, a guy I follow who lives in London, asked how the production company had got the permit to conduct such an event at a place which was so inaccessible, the year is 2023, there should be more accessibility.

"Similarly to Dublin, many of the buildings in London are quite old and can't be renovated but then I don't really understand why a different venue couldn't have been sourced if that is the case.

"These things obviously have months of planning that go into them and more consideration could have been taken into how accessibility is organised for the venue. Overall, that whole experience put a bit of a dampener on the week."

Niamh added that she wanted to share her experience to shed light on the inequalities disabled people face daily when provisions are not in place to ensure they have access to spaces.

Forward-planning is something that Niamh is used to and she shared that at one point she felt guilty for not having thoroughly checked the website for its accessibility but pointed out that that shouldn't be entirely the responsibility of wheelchair users.

Niamh told MyLondon: "In the vast majority of cases, if I'm going to a show or concert it will say on the website whether there is step-free access or wheelchair space, or something that indicates to me that it's not suitable for a wheelchair.

"I didn't see any information like that on their website so I just assumed that it would be accessible and I did have some feelings of guilt on the night because I was thinking 'oh gosh, I should have researched more, but I don't think the onus should be on wheelchair users - the information should be readily available."

The website for immersive Gatsby states: "Gatsby's Mansion occupies the first floor of IMMERSIVE LDN. Regretfully, it is not currently accessible to wheelchair users."

She added: "The Arts of London company seem to also think that the fault lies with the third party ticket provider because when I looked on their website the special requirements page wasn't available but it seemingly is now - I don't know what that means but I booked through London Theatre Tickets, a third party, and I couldn't see any information from them.

"After the whole thing they asked for my email and got in touch the next morning to say that they were working to get a refund for the original tickets but also tickets to see the Peaky Blinders show in Camden that night, that was a very nice gesture in itself because that show was more accessible.

"That brings you back to the thought, though, why can one show be accessible but another one can't."

Brian Hook, the creator of immersive Gatsby, told MyLondon: "We realise despite our efforts not all third party ticket holders share the FAQs section when supplying show information to agents and the site is on occasion temperamental).

"Talking about access is important and the whole industry needs to be more open and work as hard as it can to do so.

"The Davies Street Building (a temporary use space) is being knocked down, with the last performance of Gatsby on 7th Jan so we are in full get out mode with the building."

Brian also created the Doctor Who Time Fracture show and he Peaky Blinders experience, which Niamh was gifted tickets to, which he says are both physically accessible.

Woman refused access to popular West End show because they

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