By Rob Cooper
Published: 04:48 EDT, 1 May 2013 | Updated: 07:33 EDT, 3 May 2013
Two blind friends have been told they can't go on holiday to Majorca together just two weeks before they were due to fly because they need a carer.
Lauren Wigglesworth, 27, and Stephen Sherwood, 24, were told by Thomson that they must take someone with them because they won't be able to see the in-flight safety demonstration.
Lauren was looking forward to the break at the the luxury C'an Picafort resort as she recovers from a gruelling 11-hour operation and prepares for her next stint in hospital.
She was so excited about her holiday that she had already bought all her holiday clothes, booked in to have her hair done and got her Euros.
U-turn: Lauren Wigglesworth, 27, and Stephen Sherwood, 24, were initially told that they couldn't fly with Thomson because they are blind
No go: Lauren Wigglesworth, 27, and Stephen Sherwood, 24, were told by Thomson it wasn't safe for them to fly because they are blind
They booked the break in January and were due to fly from Manchester Airport to Palma on May 8 but were told last week they couldn't go.
Miss Wigglesworth, of Urmston, Greater Manchester, said: 'It's just not fair. They wouldn't accept any kind of compromise. That was it.
'I'm absolutely gutted. They said we can go if we take someone sighted but that's not the point. It was my first holiday without my mother so I was really excited - no parents.
'I've already changed my money and the company gave me our tickets.'
Miss Wiggleworth suffered mid-facial disfigurement in the womb because of complications with her mother's pregnancy when hormones stopped being produced.
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The condition, which is genetic, left Lauren blind from birth. It is so rare that it is known to affect just 23 people in the world and doesn't have a name.
However, she has bravely overcome her disability and is studying psychotherapy at Salford University.
Her mother Dawn, 50, said she flagged up her daughter and Stephen's condition when she booked the £538 five-night half-board holiday.
It was only when they filled out a disability form in late April that the company backtracked and said they can't go.
Anger: Lauren Wigglesworth, 27, who has had a series of operations, had already got her travel money and had been issued with her tickets for the holiday when she was told she wouldn't be able to go without a carer
Mrs Wigglesworth said: 'It is absolutely disgusting. They have been looking forward to this so much.'
Lauren and Stephen, from Hereford, were told that they would not know how to put on a life jacket or an oxygen mask.
But she said: 'I have spoken to other blind people who said they were shown how to put on the life jacket and explained the plane instructions before they even boarded. So what is it about us that means they can't?'
Natalie Doig, campaigns officer for the Royal National Institute of Blind People said that by law companies like Thomson have to work to accommodate those who can't see.
Mother's anger: Dawn, 50, said she flagged up her daughter's condition when she booked the holiday
'While we can't comment on individual cases, we are most concerned by Thomson's apparently negative attitude towards their blind customers,' she said.
'Blind and partially sighted people deserve to book holidays and take flights like every other customer.
'Why should those with sight loss miss out on their holidays, or travelling for business, simply because companies are failing to take accessibility standards seriously?
'The law requires airlines and holiday companies to explore alternatives when dealing with customers who require extra assistance, and they are supposed to consider this at the time of booking.'
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said that blind passengers do not need a chaperone - although airlines can refuse to carry people if for safety reasons.
'We would always want to see airlines engaging with their passengers at the start of the booking process, so the passengers have the opportunity to let the airline know about any support they need, and the airline has the time to make the necessary arrangements.
'Blind passengers are not required by the regulation to travel with a companion. This is very much dependent on the exact nature of their needs, but the airline should work closely with them to identify what support the passenger requires.
'If passengers with reduced mobility are unhappy with the service they have received from their airline, they can refer their complaint to the CAA.'
A Thomson spokesman said: 'Thomson is sorry to hear of Ms Wigglesworth’s disappointment at not being able to travel to Majorca.
'Both Ms Wigglesworth and her partner completed a special assistance form, in which they stated they would need assistance to complete a number of safety related actions, such as putting on a lifejacket, on board the aircraft.
'These requirements are taken from the Department of Transport’s Code of Practice that has been confirmed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, to which Thomson and every other UK airline must adhere.
'Unfortunately, as Ms Wigglesworth and her partner are not able to complete these without assistance, we are not able to allow them to travel unaccompanied.
'We have therefore offered Ms Wigglesworth a full refund or the option to add a passenger to her booking who could assist her and her partner on their trip.'
'Thomson takes its responsibilities with regards to our customers’ welfare seriously. Our shop staff give customers the information they need to make a decision on which hotel and destination best suits their needs.'
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2317564/Blind-friends-told-Thomson-Holidays-fly-Majorca-wont-able-safety-demonstration.html