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Tony Hudgell: Family Appalled At Gatwick Wheelchair Wait

December 14, 2022

    An eight-year-old boy who has had both legs amputated was forced to wait hours for his wheelchair to be returned at Gatwick Airport.

    Paula Hudgell said she was “appalled” that no help was offered after her son Tony was left stranded at 03:00 GMT.

    Tony lost his limbs following abuse by his birth parents, who were jailed for 10 years in 2018.

    Gatwick Airport has apologised for the distress caused but said it experienced significant disruption on Sunday night.

    Ms Hudgell, from King’s Hill in Kent, told the BBC the family had been travelling back from a “magical” trip to Lapland.

    She tweeted a picture of a downcast Tony at the airport, and said she had received no support from staff as they waited.

    View original tweet on Twitter

    Ms Hudgell said they initially sat on the aircraft to wait for the wheelchair while the captain tried to help find it.

    When it did not arrive, they were given assistance to get off the plane and waited at baggage reclaim.

    She said: “We weren’t bothered about our baggage. We could have come back the next day. But we could not leave the airport because we didn’t have Tony’s wheelchair.”

    She said Tony was tired, thirsty and hungry, and that he was forced to sit on the floor.

    “It was just absolutely horrendous,” Ms Hudgell added.

    The wheelchair finally came through four-and-a-half hours later.

    ‘Unacceptable’

    A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “We are aware of this awful situation and apologise for the distress caused to the Hudgell family.

    “This is unacceptable and we have picked it up as a matter of urgency with the airline, Jet2, and their ground handler, Menzies.

    “We experienced significant disruption last night and had to close the airport for a two-hour period for safety reasons.”

    Jet2 has also apologised to the Hudgell family for the delay, which it said was due to the airport’s temporary closure.

    “The baggage handler experienced severe delays offloading luggage. Unfortunately, this included Mr Hudgell’s wheelchair,” it said in a statement.

    “This should not be the experience that our customers receive.”

    Baggage handler Menzies has also been approached for a comment.

    Tony’s adoptive family successfully campaign for a change in the law to allow for tougher sentencing of child abusers.

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