The first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the Atlantic - Geoff Holt - was humiliated by a rail guard who said he could not board the train as his electric wheelchair would damage the floor. The train in question was the Island Line's three-minute Ryde Pier to Ryde Esplanade service on the Isle of Wight. The incident happened on Saturday.
The 45-year-old sailor said he could not recall the last time he was so upset and angry after the incident on Saturday. He also added that "in typical British fashion" none of the passengers came to his aid as he argued with the guard.
"He had publicly humiliated me, he had publicly degraded me and he had made me feel like a worthless piece of dirt...it was quite simply the most disguting way to treat another human being, let alone a disable one," Holt said in his blog, adding, "Quite simply, guard on the train, specifically 'Guard 1003' as he reluctantly identified himself when pressed, refused to let me board the 4.45 pm train - the same train journey I had made nine hours earlier."
"Eventually, after several minutes of his posturing, huffing and puffing, Guard 1003 lifted the tiny ramp stored on the train and, quite literally, threw it on the platform, hitting my foot and leg in the process (when I got home, I found it was grazed and bleeding, I did not know this at the time because I can't feel it). That in itself is physical assault," Holt added.
The guard has been suspended pending an investigation.
Meanwhile, an Island Line spokesperson was quoted in a Press Association report on the matter.
"We are absolutely horrified at the events Mr Holt has described. We welcome electric wheelchairs on our services and it is very important to us that all of our passengers feel welcome on our network. We are taking this matter very seriously and have already launched an investigation. A senior manager has contacted Mr Holt directly to apologise. We can also confirm that one of our employees has been suspended while our investigation is under way," the spokesperson said.