Family of disabled girl vent fury over Disney on Ice ticket row
A disabled girl's family have claimed they were forced to buy an extra ticket for Disney on Ice because she was too young to qualify for a free ticket for her carer.
The SSE Arena said that only disabled children over the age of 14 can get a free ticket for their carer to attend a show.
Chelsea Webster, from Irvinestown, is nine, and her mum was told that she would have to buy a ticket if she wanted someone to accompany her disabled daughter.
The little girl has cerebral palsy and scoliosis, which is an abnormal twisting of the spine, and is confined to a wheelchair. She is also almost completely blind.
Her mum Lisa Nangle decided to take her to Disney on Ice at the SSE Arena in Belfast as a birthday treat yesterday as she turns 10 on Friday.
The Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment tour features characters from some of Hollywood's biggest children's movies performing some of Chelsea's favourite songs.
Chelsea's carer Jenny Castle explained: "She is blind but she can make out lights and she loves the music so they decided to take her to see the show. I bought her the sing-a-long Frozen last Christmas and she just adores it so this was a special treat."
Chelsea's mum Lisa bought tickets for her daughter and her partner Peter. After speaking to other parents of disabled children, she believed that she would get a companion ticket for free.
However, when she contacted the SSE Arena, she was told that tickets for carers are only given free of charge to disabled children over the age of 14.
As Chelsea is nine, she did not qualify and Lisa was forced to pay for the extra ticket as she did not want to disappoint her daughter. The family saw the show but it cost a total of almost £80.
A spokesperson for the SSE Arena confirmed yesterday that it is their policy to charge for tickets for carers of any disabled children below the age of 14.
They explained that as all children below the age of 14 should be accompanied by an adult anyway, it is their policy to charge parents or carers of anyone below that age.
As those over the age of 14 could attend an event alone, they do not charge the carers of disabled children over this age.
Jenny explained: "We're all annoyed about this. The money doesn't matter but it's the principle. In four years time, she could go and her carer could go for free. It seems ridiculous."
"Chelsea is in her own wheelchair so she doesn't take up a seat. She's been to other shows elsewhere before and they haven't had this issue.
"I want to raise this issue for the parents of other disabled parents, especially those who can't afford to pay for that extra ticket."