October 24, 2008

The forthcoming Diversity Week, organized by Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (Sefton CVS), looks to have some interesting events. As well as the expected workshops and conferences, the event also sees a theatre performance and workshop of “Boygirlfruitflower: A (Gay Disabled Transexual) Love Story Told to a Ticket Inspector at Alton Towers”, a comedy by Stephen Keyworth.

Robert Softley was refused entry to Alton Towers theme park because he and his partner are disabled. The couple had chosen to visit the park while driving from their home in Edinburgh to Southampton. As they were not being accompanied by an able-bodied person, Alton Towers management said that it would be against their policy to allow them on to any rides.

The couple remained at the park’s gates for three hours, arguing their case and pointing out, amongst other things, that the evacuation procedure for a disabled person stuck on Nemesis at 42 feet in the air would be no different than for anyone else. They highlighted the disparity between the UK and the USA, where they have visited theme parks without any problems. Eventually park management allowed the couple entry, but even then they were followed by staff and made to feel unwelcome.

Upon returning home, the couple contacted the Disability Rights Commission who supported their case. Despite continually denying any wrongdoing, Tussauds Group (who, at that time, operated Alton Towers amongst many other UK tourist attractions) eventually offered to cover the couple’s expenses. With current UK disability discrimination legislation being so weak, this was as good as the couple could have hoped for.

However, this story does not end there.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007 saw Robert, a professional actor since 2002, take on the role of theatre producer for the first time.
Written by Stephen Keyworth (previous work includes Eastenders and the Royal Court), “A (Gay Disabled Transexual) Love Story Told to a Ticket Inspector at Alton Towers” will tell the story of an (anything but) average couple as they show that, given their life experiences, they don’t need a carer to visit a theme park.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday 4th November 2008 at the Studio, Southport Art Centre, from 2pm till 4pm. Following the performance there will be a workshop facilitated by Robert to discuss issues raised by the play.

There is no charge, but tickets are on a strictly first come first basis so please contact:
Tony Griffin, Sefton Equalities Partnership, 0151 928 2233 or email

(Via PFC)

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