Athlete stunned at lack of help to get on train by guard on board

LET DOWN Cecilia Turk with her support worker Laura Scott, 27
LET DOWN Cecilia Turk with her support worker Laura Scott, 27
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DISABLED athlete Cecilia Turk was left disgusted at the lack of help given to her during a train journey.

Cecilia, 29, of Waterlooville, suffers from cerebral palsy and had tried out to be part of the boccia team at this year’s Paralympics Games, which are currently running.

And while thousands of people will be using trains to get to the Games, Cecila was left waiting on the platform.

She went to Andover from Havant train station using a South West Trains (SWT) service, along with a support worker and a friend.

But her return journey turned into a nightmare when calls to help her on the train were ignored.

Toilets at the station were undergoing maintenance, and Cecilia was unable to use the facilities on board. She says the experience left her ‘humiliated’.

Cecilia said: ‘I had both tickets and assistance booked for my outward and inward journeys.

‘As circumstance would have it, I was unable reach the station in time to catch my planned return train.

‘This wasn’t an issue as there would be more trains, so my support worker pressed the information button to speak to staff.

‘The man we spoke to informed us that on the next train to arrive, the guard would be aware of my presence at the station and the assistance required.’

But she was left shocked when she was ignored by the guard who was supposed to help.

‘When the train arrived the guard could be seen at the front of the train with his head poking out of the window,’ she added.

‘My friend who also has cerebral palsy ran towards him shouting.

‘The guard ignored him and the train left the station.

‘I’m sorry but a tall, red-haired girl sat in a huge wheelchair and two people running should be enough to obtain anyone’s attention.’

Cecilia, who is studying a masters degree in accessibility and law at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘I’m disgusted by the treatment I received and horrified that other disabled passengers may be receiving this treatment on a daily basis.

‘There are not many forms of public transport accessible to me and now I am worried and put off from using South West Trains in the future.’

Cecilia has put in a formal complaint to SWT, which said a manager will visit Cecilia next week.

A spokeswoman for SWT said: ‘We are extremely concerned to hear of the issues experienced by Ms Turk.

‘We would like to reassure her we are carrying out a thorough investigation of her claims as a matter of priority and will take any action necessary following the outcome of our investigation.

‘We have contacted Ms Turk directly to discuss the issues she faced during her journey and to apologise that she does not appear to have received the kind of service we would expect.’

Cecilia caught a train home after eventually being able to board a service with a guard’s assistance.