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Blind woman 'barred at Grand Prix'

Published 10/07/2015

Silverstone said their rules about animals at the British Grand Prix are set by the Motor Sports Association
Silverstone said their rules about animals at the British Grand Prix are set by the Motor Sports Association

A blind woman claims she was refused entry to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone because her guide dog was a "health and safety" risk.

Kate Young, 51, had been planning the trip for months, but was left feeling "crushed" after being told that someone could fall over her golden retriever, Star, when she rang up a week before to say she would be taking the dog.

Mrs Young, from Cheshire, was told that dogs were not allowed in and so she stayed at home while her family enjoyed the day out.

But she later heard that celebrities were allowed to take their pets inside, including Lewis Hamilton, who took his bulldogs, Roscoe and Coco, along.

The F1 star posted photographs of his dogs on Twitter, writing: "Love having my best buddies here with me at the British GP, Silverstone."

Mrs Young said: "I felt completely stonewalled. Without my guide dog I am completely dependent on others, and in the two years since I've had Star this is the first time I've felt so restricted."

Guide Dogs campaign officer Helen Honstvet said: "It's really concerning that Silverstone refused to allow Kate's assistance dog, yet pet dogs were allowed in to the circuit. Our guide dogs support thousands of people with sight loss to make sure they don't lose their freedom, and it's disappointing when people's independence is limited in this way.

"Kate had spent months working with us to prepare for her visit and make sure the dog was comfortable with the environment. Instead of being able to enjoy a day out with her family like everyone else, she had to miss out on the experience."

A spokeswoman for Silverstone said their rules about animals at the British Grand Prix are set by the Motor Sports Association.

Three-quarters of guide dog owners have been refused access at some point, according to a report released this month by the Guide Dogs association.

Taxis, shops and restaurants cited dirt, damage and religious concerns when refusing access, despite the Equality Act stating that people with a disability should have equal access to places, business and services.

The report found that the number of successful prosecutions for those refusing access is so "woefully low" that is an "ineffective deterrent for future refusals".

"Access refusals are not only frequent, but also have a significant impact on the independence of assistance dog owners, severely undermining the role of the dog," the report concluded.

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