A disabled tennis-lover and his wife were shocked to find they had to use a service lift used by staff to take out the rubbish when they wanted to access their sought-after seats on one of Wimbledon’s show courts.
Bob and Shawn Cozens, from Swindon, found out earlier this year that they had secured prized No 1 court seats in the Wimbledon ticket ballot, after 10 years of trying.
But when they arrived on the penultimate day of the tennis championships in south-west London last Saturday, they could find no-one able to direct them to the entrance for visitors with tickets for the wheelchair-accessible section of the stadium.
Their tickets had included no information on how to access their seats.
They spent three-quarters of an hour seeking directions from a string of members of staff being finally being told to enter through a staff entrance.
They were accompanied by a young member of staff and taken to a service lift, where they had to wait several minutes as it was being used to transport wheelie-bins full of rubbish.
They eventually made it into the lift and found their way to their seats, where they watched the first set of the men’s wheelchair doubles final, featuring Britain’s Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.
But they said the experience ruined their enjoyment of a day they had been looking forward to for months.
Bob Cozens, who uses a mobility-scooter and has a communication impairment, told Disability News Service (DNS) that the access was “rubbish”.
His wife said: “The poor lad taking us to the lift was very apologetic. He said to us that a lot of people had complained.
“We had waited 10 years for tickets. It’s an international venue and it’s putting disabled people in a service lift.
“This is not what you would expect. We were shocked.”
She said they were highlighting the issue “so that the problem is sorted out for next year’s disabled guests because it is a wonderful experience that disabled people can and should enjoy”.
No 1 court only has 40 spaces for wheelchair-users out of a capacity of 12,345, a proportion of just over 0.3 per cent.
A spokesperson for the All England Lawn Tennis Club said they had apologised to Bob and Shawn Cozens after learning of their experience through DNS.
She said their seats should not have required a lift to access “so it is very disappointing to hear that they did not receive clear direction when trying to make their way there.
“We will endeavour to find out more information about who they spoke to, but regardless, it is clear that we will need to enhance our briefings and signage ahead of next year.
“We are very committed to trying to improve our accessibility services for guests every year.
“We have a dedicated accessibility team based at the south-west corner of centre court who are available to answer questions and provide any support our guests might need.
“We also offer a pre-booking service for those who wish to arrange additional support for when they arrive at the grounds.”
She said the club would be “making the appropriate improvements ahead of next year’s championships”.
Picture: Bob and Shawn Cozens at Wimbledon
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