Dad tells of struggle to take disabled son to see Ed Sheeran

Dad who took his disabled son to see Ed Sheeran at Wembley says he’s ‘overwhelmed’ by the kindness of people who offered to pay the £408 he was quoted to park near the stadium

  • Garry Ratcliffe’s, 49, plans to take his son Haydn, 18, a full-time power chair user, to an Ed Sheeran concert were almost scuppered by the weekend’s rail strikes
  • After posting a plea on Twitter, he received hundreds of replies offering support
  • Haydn had saved up his part-time job’s wages to buy the Ed Sheeran tickets and was gutted at the thought of not being able to go
  • Other fans struggled to find places to park due to an upsurge in prices caused by the lack of trains 

A father says he is overwhelmed by the kindness of others after a flood of people offered to pay the £408 he was quoted to park his car near Wembley stadium so that he could take his disabled son to watch Ed Sheeran.

Garry Ratcliffe was stunned to learn the cost of parking close to the venue so that he could take his son, Haydn, who has cerebral palsy to the concert.

After doing some research, the cheapest space he could find was £408 to park on someone’s driveway. Due to Haydn’s condition, the only way Garry could take him to the gig was to drive.

But, shocked by the cost, Garry said that he warned Haydn that they might not be able to go. 

Worried, he took to Twitter to explain the prohibitive cost of parking close to the venue – and asked for advice.

His post was retweeted 1,400 timers – and Garry was left in awe by the hundreds of people who offered to pay the parking fee for him.  

Speaking to MailOnline, Garry, 49, CEO of The Galaxy Trust, which is a Multi Academy Trust of three primary Schools in Dartford, said: ‘These were just strangers, hundreds of strangers just offering their support. It was one of those stories that caught people’s imaginations and it was amazing.

Haydn had saved up his wages from his part-time job at a gym to pay for tickets to see Ed Sheeran

Garry was relieved that the family could make it to the concert amid rail strikes

‘Because he’s got cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, Haydn can be quite isolated as a young person. So he really likes going to different gigs and big concerts in London.

‘He’d saved up for these tickets for himself and these were the first tickets he’d ever bought just on his own from his earnings.

‘So I went on to the Wembley official parking site to find that every car park was fully booked which was really unusual. I then realised that it was the third day of the current rail strike. Everyone would be driving to see Ed Sheeran because nobody would be getting the train.

‘I panicked slightly and told Haydn that we might not be going because there is no way we can get up there without a car and obviously he was devastated.’

Garry and his husband Kyle, 49, then tried the parking app Just Park. 

Garry said: ‘One space came up that was on somebody’s driveway about a 10-minute walk from the stadium and they were charging £408.’

After asking for advice on Twitter he heard from one man who offered to pay the £408 parking space so that Haydn and his dads could make it to the concert.

Garry said he turned down the offer – but added: ‘I tried to convey quite early on that this was a problem for a kid who’s quite entitled and privileged. It wasn’t about somebody struggling to feed themselves for the week, it was about a parking space. So let’s give it a bit of perspective. I would never have taken the money just to pay for a parking space.’

In the end Garry accepted an offer from a member of staff at Wembley Stadium who had been given a space for Saturday but was not going to be working.

Garry, his husband Kyle and Haydn were offered a free parking space at Wembley

Garry said: ‘We arrived in plenty of time and our parking space, provided by Wembley was ready and waiting.

‘The concert was amazing. Ed is such a talented musician and a natural showman. Haydn sang his heart out and danced in his chair for the whole gig, waving, laughing and smiling all the way through.

‘Thank you in no small part to the generosity and kindness of those social media strangers that supported Haydn to make sure his night was perfect.’

As a family who have three children with disabilities, they struggle with public transport at busy travel times.

Garry said: ‘We don’t stop doing anything, it just means we have to do a lot more planning.

‘When things go well people are really welcoming but when things get a bit busier, often Haydn is seen as an inconvenience.

Travelling on public transport requires a lot of planning for Haydn and his family

‘If there is a person with who’s traveling on the train with their bicycle, then they might put the bicycle where the wheelchair should go. If their bicycle is there, then it prevents Haydn getting on to actually travel in his wheelchair and at that point, he is seen as inconvenience.’

Garry said: ‘We are in a privileged and good position of being able to worry about a parking space for a concert. Let’s hope that the next time people see a story about a disabled issue, they will have the same reaction because certainly Haydn as a full-time wheelchair user experiences issues in terms of travel access every day.’

The Ed Sheeran concert went ahead despite many fans struggling to travel to Wembley

Many fans like Garry and his family faced parking issues right up until the day of the concert.

E-Commerce Assistant Hannah Willsher, 29, nearly resold her tickets after struggling to find a parking space for a reasonable price.

She said: ‘I couldn’t seem to find any communication online about what parking would be open or which is recommended and most already said they were sold out. I spent hours over the past few days scouring Twitter and Google and I was on the verge of giving up the whole night to be honest.’

She found that some people who live near Wembley were charging £258 just to park on their drives but secured an option for £25.

‘I finally managed find a parking space I could book after the ticket company sent me an email, but means we’ve had to fill up our car with an expensive fuel bill to get there but I’m just happy we got it sorted.’

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