The founders of a forest adventure park near Peebles have apologised profusely to a group of deaf thrill-seekers after they were refused entry for a birthday bash.
Lynda McQueen and her seven friends had travelled down from as far as Fife to test themselves over the forest assault course at Go Ape in Glentress.
The group had made a booking, but the fact that they were all deaf was not actioned upon by the staff at the site until it was too late. A video showing the site manager explaining why he couldn’t let them in on saftey grounds, which has been viewed 159,000 times, was uploaded onto Facebook by one of the group, Lisa Johnston.
That post has seen the facility being accused of discrimination, which Go Ape denies.
The course manager explained to the group that the Glentress site is unique, in that the largest zip slide on the course does not allow sight of the landing area from the top of the slide, so adventurers have to wait on a radio signal that the landing was clear before sliding.
None of the group were able to hear that radio message and the facility had no spare workers to perform this function on that day.
Lynda had sent an email to tell them about the requirement two days prior to the visit, but a delay in internal communications meant no-one could be raised in time.
The group went go-karting in Edinburgh instead.
Tristram and Rebecca Mayhew, founders of Go Ape – which has 30 outdoor adventure facilities across the UK – said: “We would like to make a profound apology to Lynda McQueen and her seven friends as we can understand how disappointed and upset they must have felt.
“Our course manager was concerned that Lynda’s party, who were all profoundly deaf, would not be able to hear safety critical instructions and would therefore expose themselves to an unacceptably high risk of an accident.
“Our course at Peebles is unique in that it is our only course where participants have to be able to hear radio messages from our instructors in order to avoid zip wire collisions.
“We have lots of deaf customers who do go round our 30 Go Ape courses, happily and safely. Lynda emailed our call centre two days before her booking, asking for an interpreter, but regrettably this was not passed on to our team at Peebles until 20 minutes after her arrival time.
“If our course manager had received the message with sufficient notice, he would have arranged for extra staff to be on site to accompany the group.
“We set up Go Ape because we wanted to create adventures and encourage everyone to live life adventurously. We are so sorry that we disappointed Lynda and her friends who were expecting a fun celebration with us.
“We are working to ensure we can always enable profoundly deaf customers, indeed anyone who can climb a rope ladder, to enjoy Go Ape.
“We would welcome any organisations who would like to offer us assistance to improve our accessibility to groups of all abilities, get in touch on Helpusgetbetter@goape.co.uk”