October 26th, 2016

Blind RAF veteran told he can only stay at hotel if Guide Dog is left in the car

Blind RAF veteran told he can only stay at hotel if Guide Dog is left in the car Blind RAF veteran told he can only stay at hotel if Guide Dog is left in the car

A BLIND RAF veteran was hoping for a relaxing seaside holiday but was left shocked when hotel staff told him he could not stay unless his guide dog slept in the car.

Robert Beck and wife Meryl were looking forward to a short break on the south coast with their golden Labrador Fitz.

But when the couple from Leamington arrived at The Haven Guest House in Gosport, Hampshire, they were told they had to leave the dog outside.

Mr Beck – who lost his sight last year after suffering from glaucoma for 30 years – said it was the first time he has ever been told he could not take his dog with him.

The 77-year-old said: “We couldn’t believe it, we were utterly shocked. We were recommended the hotel by another guest house we usually stay in, but when we arrived at The Haven a woman told us we couldn’t stay with the dog.

“A man then came to the door and said the dog could sleep in the car. I showed him my card that says I’m allowed to bring Fitz wherever I go, and told him he was going against the law, but he was having none of it.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this. We’ve eaten in posh restaurants and they’ve never had a problem.”

Rather than remain at the hotel, the couple decided to take their dog and stay at a nearby guest house to continue their break.

The owner of The Haven – where rooms cost up to £70 a night – has since apologised to Mr Beck and said they did not understand it was the law to accept guide dogs.

The Guide Dogs charity have recently been campaigning for those who flout the law to receive tougher penalties as refusing to allow assistance dogs into any establishment is illegal.

More than three quarters of guide dog owners have been turned away from a shop, hotel, restaurant or taxi because of their dog but the charity wants to see changes made, which will put an end to the discrimination.

It is demanding bigger fines for taxi drivers who turn owners away and greater awareness for staff in businesses dealing directly with the public.

A spokeswoman for the charity told the Observer: “Under the Equality Act 2010, everyone has the right to the same service. Providers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for people who are blind or partially sighted.”

Mr Beck spent time in the Royal Air Force from 1958 until 1961 as part of National Service before going on to work as a radar operator underground at RAF Boulmer.

Along with more than 1,000 other veterans, he was invited to attend a special garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the 100th year of Blind Veterans UK – a charity which supports visually-impaired ex-servicemen and women.