Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has blasted the lack of disabled access in Britain after she was forced to crawl 12 flights of stairs to her home, dragging her wheelchair behind her. The 43-year-old Paralympian arrived at her block of flats in Southwark, London at 11pm on Wednesday to find the lift broken for the sixth time since July, she claimed. Baroness Grey-Thompson emailed the company who manages the block to notify them that the lift was out of order.
But when no one responded she was left with no choice but to crawl to her flat dragging her wheelchair weighing more than one stone behind her.
She said: ‘People assume that Britain is much more accessible than it is. The battle is not won. It’s really frustrating and it’s stuff like this that other people take for granted.’
She told The Times: ‘If you can walk up the stairs it would take you five minutes, but it took me 25 minutes as I had to balance my chair on each step and then haul it up. It’s pretty unpleasant.
The 11-time gold medal winner said it was only because of her upper body strength that she was able to manage the feat.
‘Most people wouldn’t be able to do it. If I couldn’t have crawled up the stairs then what would I have done? Slept the night in the foyer?’
She took to Twitter to vent her frustration at being left with ‘two lovely bruises’ on the back of her right leg following the incident.
Lady Grey-Thompson, who lives in London four days a week, said the on-call manager of the building ‘pretty much refused to come’ last time the lift broke, and said: ‘It’s a real pain in the neck.’
She added that returning to her car in the morning involved ‘bouncing down the stairs’ and said she did not know if the lift would be fixed yet.
In the past Baroness Grey-Thompson has had to throw her wheelchair off a train and crawl out when she was left alone in a carriage at midnight with no assistance.
When she cam third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2000 she was unable to get on stage because the organisers forgot to install a wheelchair ramp.
As well as being an elite athlete Baroness Grey-Thompson has campaigned against what she called ‘second-class’ treatment of people with disabilities.
Yesterday in her role as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords she defeated Government plans to limit the ways disabled people can apply for benefits by 163 votes to 148.