One-handed woman barred from Alton Towers' Smiler Rollercoaster

Credit: PA

A woman with one hand has accused Alton Towers of discrimination after she was barred from riding the Smiler rollercoaster.

Sarah Pond, from Shropshire, said that a member of staff at the park in Staffordshire had said: "you need to get off, you have one hand."

Never in my life have I been spoken to like this. I was not offered a reason why when I explained I have been on this ride about 10 times on other days.

Sarah Pond

In a Facebook post Ms Pond said that she was "astonished" to see a girl with her arm in a cast allowed on the ride.

She wrote: "I read the rules of the ride. You need to be able to walk 25m without help. And climb a ladder. Well I can assure you I can, nothing is wrong with my legs!"

She added: "I'm still angry and upset. Never in my 33 years of life have I been treated with such discrimination over being born without my hand.

The park has apologised for the way Ms Pond was treated but added that the actions were taken because of health and safety.

We are sorry to hear that Ms Pond feels like she did not receive the kind of experience at Alton Towers that we would like our guests to have. On arrival at the ride entrance, our staff did advise that for safety reasons, she would not be eligible to ride The Smiler. As the health and safety of our guests is always our main priority, we do have restrictions in place which are set by the ride manufacturers and mean some of our rides and attractions are not suitable for everyone. In the rare event that it is necessary to evacuate the ride, this may require guests to descend a short distance on a ladder using a harness and safety line. Current Health & Safety Executive guidance states that it is essential to maintain three points of contact when climbing. Alton Towers Resort would not put any guest at risk by working outside of these guidelines.

Alton Towers spokesperson

Several people were seriously injured on the Smiler rollercoaster last year.

Alton Towers' owners, Merlin Attractions, face a large fine as a result of the Smiler crash last June.

Last month Merlin admitted a breach of health and safety over the crash, which resulted in two women having leg amputations.