Disabled sailor Geoff Holt left ‘stranded’ at Gatwick after taxi firm error

DISABLED sailing hero Geoff Holt is used to arduous voyages - but he wasn't expecting a six-hour journey after a cab company left him ‘stranded’ at Gatwick.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:12 pm
Geoff Holt

Mr Holt, who runs Portsmouth based project Wetwheels Maritime Adventures, had returned from holiday in Egypt to discover Streamline-Hardway cabs had a wheelchair-accessible cab booked for the wrong time. 

The gold medal winning Paralympic sailor, who uses a large electric wheelchair, said it was ‘an example of what people with a disability have to go through’ when planning a trip. 

He said: 'It was very frustrating. I had called to check the booking twice - but when I called from the airport they said my taxi was booked for 11.50am - which was in 11 hours’ time.

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'I didn't even get an apology.

'You can not just leave someone stranded in the middle of the night 100 miles from home - especially someone with a wheelchair.'

Mr Holt's electric wheelchair needed to be dismantled in order to fit in a cab provided by a London firm - after a three-hour search to find a suitable vehicle. 

This is not the first time Mr Holt has highlighted the problems people with a disability face when making a journey. In 2011, the MBE-awarded sailor described being ‘man-handled’ in front of a packed plane, as disability assistance staff had arrived too late to help him board before other passengers. 

He said: 'You hear these stories a lot. 

'It impacts you're whole holiday.'

Mr Holt praised Streamline-Hardway for having so many disability accessible vehicles: 'It is cracking they take so many people with disabilities,' he said.

A representative from Streamline-Hardway said they were looking into the matter. 

They said: 'The operator who took the call should have apologised - it should have been the first thing out of their mouth.

‘A vehicle was offered for as soon as possible. Hardway has multiple cars that accommodate a variety of wheelchairs.

'We do an awful lot of work with people with disabilities. I'm genuinely sorry for the error.'

Mr Holt said he understood it was a ‘genuine mistake’, which ‘highlights the lack of options for disabled people when things go wrong’.