Making a stand for the disabled

By Patrick LowmanA CHARITY leader who was awarded £170,000 compensation for injuries received on a plane is launching a campaign to ensure other disabled people do not suffer the same fate.

By Patrick Lowman

A CHARITY leader who was awarded £170,000 compensation for injuries received on a plane is launching a campaign to ensure other disabled people do not suffer the same fate.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Dr Lin Berwick is compiling a dossier of similar cases and plans to lobby airline bosses and the Government to ensure improved facilities for the disabled on flights.

Dr Berwick suffered irreparable damage to her legs and back when crew on board two different Go flights “handled her like a sack of potatoes” as they tried to get her into an economy standard seat, even though she had made prior arrangements and informed the airline of her special needs.

The incident happened in 2001 when Dr Berwick, who is also blind and almost confined to a wheelchair, was flying back to Stansted Airport from Scotland following a charity mission.

The incident advanced Dr Berwick's condition by several years and left her needing 24-hour care.

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Since receiving her compensation payout last month, Dr Berwick said three other disabled people had contacted her to say they had suffered similar on-board ordeals.

“When the first person contacted me and told me what they went through, I felt very sorry for them. Just like me they were pulled around and left feeling very humiliated and it has just got to stop,” she added.

“I firmly believe that there are a lot more disabled people who have suffered this treatment on board planes, but they don't know which way to turn.

“I'm now trying to compile a dossier of these types of incident and use it to put pressure on the airlines and MPs to ensure disabled people are treated with the correct level of care when flying.

“It is important we find out how many people are being injured in this way and more important to make sure it doesn't happen again.”

Dr Berwick said she was going to campaign for airlines to introduce improved facilities for the disabled on flights.

“When you consider the huge profit margins of airlines, it is not to much to ask for a designated space with sufficient leg room for disabled passengers,” she added.

“If this doesn't happen, then disabled people are being denied the right to travel by plane - all we are asking for is the correct seating. I am not starting this campaign for personal reasons, but someone has got to make a stand for the disabled.”

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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