CHESTER Racecourse has apologised to a former international disabled athlete who was refused entry because he wasn’t wearing a jacket.
Simon Cook, 46, from Pear Tree Lane, Whitchurch, who says he suffered embarrassment and humiliation, had to sneak in via another entrance.
Mr Cook was unable to wear a jacket even though it is standard dress code for the County Stand because it would have got caught in the wheels of his chair.
Racecourse chief executive Richard Thomas has since apologised to Mr Cook and says a steward has been briefed over his conduct.
He added Mr Cook, and his wife Jobina, will be “welcomed back” to the racecourse as a peace offering.
Mr Cook, who still holds the British shot put record for a disabled athlete, said: “It just spoilt the day. To be honest, I felt humiliated.”
He and his wife joined a 10-strong group of friends for a day at the races at the end of June who each paid £34.
But they hit problems when one of the party was initially denied entry for wearing his “lucky” mustard-coloured jacket. A more senior steward allowed this man in but then turned on Mr Cook, who is paralysed from the waist down, for not wearing a jacket even though he explained why.
Mr Cook and his wife sneaked in through the official disabled entrance but were spotted by the same man. Two security men then wanted to escort Mr Cook away to the disabled section away from his friends.
A pal kindly saved the day by running up into the city centre to buy a jacket from a charity shop which Mr Cook rested on his lap.
Mr Cook praised the disabled-friendly facilities at the course but added: “Just because I’m in a wheelchair it doesn’t mean we don’t like to go out and enjoy ourselves at a day’s racing.”
Racecourse boss Mr Thomas said: “I’m very happy to apologise. Mistakes do happen. None of us is perfect and these things sometimes do go wrong.”