No access to Horsham station lift for disabled boy

Stamford Festival parade - Wonderland Theatrical Productions' float'Photo: MSMP290613-194js ENGEMN00120130629161820
Stamford Festival parade - Wonderland Theatrical Productions' float'Photo: MSMP290613-194js ENGEMN00120130629161820

A mother has described the ‘dangerous’ moment her husband was forced to carry their disabled son up stairs due to a lift fault at Horsham railway station.

Alfie Buck, eight, from Horsham, suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is a full time wheelchair user.

On Tuesday May 27, his family arrived at Horsham railway station to catch a train to London for Alfie’s hospital appointment, but found the lift out of order on arrival.

Staff advised the family to catch the train from Littlehaven station, but on the return journey the train only stopped at Horsham, forcing the family to use the stairs.

Alfie’s father Andrew carried him, while mother Samantha, her 14-year-old daughter Jessica Collett and a helpful stranger were left to lug the heavy, custom build wheelchair Alfie requires.

Samantha said: “I was gobsmacked. It was very frustrating - carrying Alfie is dangerous. It was left to me and my daughter to carry the wheelchair but we couldn’t lift it up the first step.

“By pure luck there was a lovely guy who had just got off the train, he grabbed the back of the chair and said ‘let’s go’.”

Samantha said the lift area was being used to store bottles of water.

She added Southern Rail advised the family to book assistance.

She said: “We have never booked assistance and if that lift had been working there wouldn’t be a problem.”

Alfie will be due for appointments in London every month.

A spokesperson for Southern Rail said: “After investigating, we have found that the staff at Horsham station acted in accordance with our policy for such a case and after apologising profusely to Mr and Mrs Buck, a taxi to the nearest accessible station was indeed offered, but it was refused.”

The spokesperson added: “The lift at Horsham station was out of order at the time awaiting parts.

“In these circumstances, our expectation is that the family would have been offered a taxi to the nearest step-free station at our expense.

“This clearly did not happen and we apologise sincerely for the inconvenience caused to Mrs Buck’s family. We have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”