Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Winter Wonderland rink left kids' clothes in ruins, claims furious dad

By Victoria Leonard

An angry father has slammed last weekend's Winter Wonderland NI event at Clandeboye Estate as a "disaster" after claiming that the plastic ice rink used by families was "covered in bleach".

Limavady father-of-three Paul Taylor, who attended the Bangor event with his daughters aged four and six and son aged eight, shared pictures of large white stains on the youngsters' dark clothing which he believes were caused by bleach coating the rink's plastic surface.

And the Belfast Telegraph can also reveal that event organiser Emma McKnight posted a Facebook message in September appealing for "any old tat" to stage the event, which has been criticised for its poor decorations, lack of cleanliness and disorganisation.

In the message, Ms McKnight stated: "I'm on the scrounge... Anyone got any old bits of tat and furniture they don't want can they please donate to me.

"I am creating Mother and Father Christmas's house for the Winter Wonderland Grotto!

"Bits of furniture, rugs, ornaments, anything really."

Paul described the £55 he spent taking his family to the event as a "horrendous waste of money".

He added that he and his wife Lisa had also been concerned over the apparent presence of bleach on the plastic ice rink's surface, fearing that their children could have suffered burns.

"The main reason we took the kids to that event was that they had advertised an ice rink, but when we got there it was sheets of plastic with a liquid on it which we believe was bleach," Paul said.

"Their mum went on to the rink with them as there were no attendants there to keep an eye on the kids. It wasn't slippy enough to skate, and the kids kept falling over and hitting their faces on the little plastic penguins used to balance.

"When we got home we thought the light patches on the knees of their dark clothes were just dust, but they smelled like bleach and it had taken all the colour out of large parts of their clothes.

"We were completely flabbergasted and we woke the children up in the early hours to check their knees for burns and marks.

"Thankfully they seemed all right, but we were terrified for their safety, and all of the new clothes they were wearing, worth about £400, have been ruined."

The event was held at the Clandeboye Estate but was not organised by or associated with the estate.

In a statement on its website, Winter NI apologised for the event, which it said "has fallen way short of our expectations".

Holders of tickets for December 18-23 were promised a full refund. However, Paul says that despite being told he had been refunded, no money has yet been transferred into his account.

He is now considering legal action.

When asked by the Belfast Telegraph to confirm the presence of bleach on the ice rink and explain why there were no attendants to monitor the children, event organiser Emma McKnight said that they had "already issued statements to the press" and claimed that the ice rink had been provided by a third party.

However, the company she named told this newspaper that it had not supplied an ice rink to the event.

Belfast Telegraph

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