Disabled Littleport woman left crying and shocked after being shoved and shouted at during Little Mix's Newmarket Racecourse concert says she no longer wants to go out
PUBLISHED: 12:30 29 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:30 29 June 2017
A disabled woman from Littleport who was left crying and shocked after being shoved and shouted at during Little Mix's Newmarket Racecourse concert says she no longer wants to go out.
Maria Stableford, who has been going to the venue for 25 years but attended on her mobility scooter for the first time on Friday, says she was shouted at, told to move from a “dangerously overflowing” VIP area, shoved and left bruised.
Attending the show with her husband – who is her carer – and her 13-year-old daughter, who was also left in tears, Maria said she saw multiple fights and drunken behaviour.
“I had a full, unobstructed view and throughout the concert I saw fights into the double figures, bottles being thrown into the crowd and one child being carried out by relatives,” she said.
“There seemed to be very little security going into the crowd and, at the end when we were leaving, I saw a row of chairs full of children being attended to outside an ambulance.”
Organisers have since apologised to anyone who did not have a good experience and said they will review the event.
Amy Starkey, managing director of Newmarket Racecourse, said: “We had 22,000 people [on Friday] night on site to watch racing and Little Mix perform after racing.
“We widely advertise our music events as racing plus music. We had a steady flow of people arriving with a record number of police and security on site.
“The team and I remain absolutely committed to ensuring that anybody that comes to enjoy racing and or music has a good experience and if for whatever reason that experience isn’t in line with their expectation then I apologise.”
About 20 minutes before the start of the concert, though, Maria was told to leave the area which she had been told was for disabled people – despite having been there for two hours already.
She said: “I could see the area was getting busier but still not full. Then a member of staff came over to me, in a very firm and particularly loud manner, and told me that I was in the wrong place and that I needed to go where all the disabled people were.
“I explained that my husband was a carer and that he was on the ground with my daughter in front of me. I said I didn’t want them to take up the space for another disabled person, and that it was the first time anybody had told me that it was a VIP section.
“It was dangerously overflowing, but what happened next was mad, really.
“Another family overheard what had happened and one drunk woman said ‘get over there; we’ve a paid lots more than you’.
“I thought maybe I was being filmed, like it was some sort of social experiment. It felt really archaic.
“A member of staff then came and said ‘if you don’t move I’m getting other people and we will move you’. Those were her exact words.
“It was then that I genuinely felt shocked. It all started getting too much.”
Two police officers who were called by staff came over to Maria.
“They said they felt really sorry for me and they weren’t going to move me and I should try to enjoy the concert.
“I thought that would be the end of it, but when they left a woman from another family came towards me very quickly.
“She hit into my shoulder whilst telling me ‘get out of here’. She had to be pulled back by her husband and a member of staff because I had been shoved.
“At the same time, a management member of staff started pushing the other wheelchair users into the VIP area.
“The woman that ended up next to me, Lisa Gay, was in a motorised wheelchair with her daughter and husband.
“She said how sorry she felt for me and that she had never seen anything like it in her life.”
“It was my 13-year-old’s first ever pop concert as well, and she was crying because she couldn’t get to me.”
Maria thinks the introduction of a new ‘quick order alcoholic drink’ app played a role in some people’s violent and drunken behaviour.
She said: “You feel really vulnerable and body conscious as a disabled person anyway. But now I feel like I don’t want to go out.”
Maria said that, despite emailing Newmarket Racecourse on Saturday morning, she is yet to receive a response.
“I would like to offer an olive branch to them and maybe advise them as to how they can improve their facilities for disabled people.”