Belfast Telegraph

Dad hits out at Balmoral Show over its disabled toilet facilities

Disappointed: Michael Holden
Disappointed: Michael Holden

By Lisa Smyth

A father-of-two with motor neurone disease has hit out at the disabled toilet facilities at the Balmoral Show.

Michael Holden (46), who was diagnosed with MND seven years ago, said he was forced to sit in his own urine as he was unable to use the disabled toilets provided at the show.

He said he contacted event organisers ahead of his trip to ensure he would be able to use the toilet and was assured there were adequate facilities.

But once he arrived he discovered the disabled toilet was not big enough to accommodate his wheelchair and a changing room did not have any toilet in it.

"I was faced with a choice of telling my children we would have to leave or cover my lap and urinate, and that is what I did - I couldn't face the disappointment of forcing them to leave when they were enjoying themselves."

Mr Holden said he was particularly angry that a changing room had a sign on the door which read 'Changing Place' and included the symbol that shows a facility meets standards laid out by the Changing Places charity.

Changing Places facilities include more features than a normal disabled toilet.

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Key requirements include a toilet in a position that allows carers to stand at either side, room to manoeuvre an electric wheelchair, a hoist and a height adjustable adult-sized changing belt.

The facility provided at the Balmoral Show included a hoist and changing bench, but no toilet. Mr Holden said: "I feel like it was misleading."

A spokeswoman from the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society said: "We inadvertently used a symbol from the 'Changing Places' campaign on the unit.

"We have been in contact with the Changing Places campaign to explain, and they have accepted that it was a genuine error, as our facilities had been accurately described on our website and pre-event materials.

"We apologise to any patrons who have been inconvenienced."

Belfast Telegraph