Mum reduced to tears after Harrods ban son’s wheelchair
The mum of a paralysed boy has hit out at Harrods after staff stopped him from using his wheelchair inside the shop.
Shelly Wall, 43, spoke after a security guard at the famous London store said her son Noah, three, who was born with spina bifida, would not be able to take his wheelchair inside.
He was being pushed in a pushchair because of the crowds at around 1:00pm on Monday but Noah, from Abbeytown, Cumbria, was desperate to be independent in the wheelchair she was carrying into the store.
A security guard refused to accept it was a wheelchair despite Noah’s sister Steph explaining that he is paralysed from the chest down and even showing the guard his still legs.
Shelly said: “It was absolutely horrendous. We were told to leave Noah’s wheelchair in left luggage as if it was a toy.
“The guard just wouldn’t budge, even when we explained that Noah was paralysed and that he wanted his wheels to move he wouldn’t have it.
“He just kept saying it didn’t look like a wheelchair and left it at that – we all left in tears.
“The Harrods staff need educating – this was a shockingly awful experience.”
Noah uses a special ZipZak wheelchair because, being under the age of three, he is too small to have a conventional wheelchair.
The ZipZak is a specially moulded seat with wheels on the side and allows Noah, who was born with spina bifida – a condition where the spine doesn’t develop properly, the independence to move.
Noah’s recently been signed up by Talent Management, one of the UK’s biggest modelling agencies and enjoys a busy schedule commuting to London regularly for photoshoots and other public events.
Shelly said: “Having the independence to move should be a basic human right. I can’t believe that such a large and well-respected company denied that of my little boy.
“We should have been celebrating Noah’s performance at the Music Man Project on Monday morning but instead we’re talking about this horrible experience. Harrods should be ashamed.
“I want to go back and educate them about children with disabilities – this was a shocking experience and I don’t want anyone else to suffer from their ignorance.”
Scores of people have messaged the luxury department store on Twitter calling for an explanation and an apology, while a Facebook page has been shared thousands of times.
Michelle received a letter of apology from Harrods on Monday evening. It reads:
“We are very sorry to hear of your experience at Harrods today and we sincerely apologise for the offence and distress this has caused you and your son.
“We take your comments extremely seriously and we have investigated the issue as a matter of priority.
“Harrods would like to clarify that our security officer did not realise the item being carried by a member of your party was a child’s wheelchair.
“For this reason our officer asked for it to be stored in our left luggage department while you visited the store.
“This was an unintentional error in judgement and again for this we sincerely apologise.
“As a gesture of goodwill we would like to invite you and your family back in-store to enjoy a complimentary meal in our Disney Café.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the store said: “Harrods is very sorry to hear of Michelle Wall’s experience with her family at the Knightsbridge store on Monday, 22nd June, and we sincerely apologise for any offence or distress this incident has caused.
“Harrods would like to clarify that our security officer did not realise the item being carried by a member of Ms Wall’s party was in fact a child’s wheelchair.
“It was for this reason our officer asked for it to be stored in our left luggage department while the rest of the family went into the building.
“This was an unintentional error in judgement, and again we apologise for this.”