Paralympic double gold medal winner Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central
TAXI drivers in Loughborough have left a Paralympic double gold medal winner stranded on the side of the road – because they didn’t want her guide dog in the car.
And the shocking incident hasn’t happened just once, but seven times at least.
Rio Olympian Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central vision, that will eventually lead to a complete loss of sight.
And speaking to the Echo she says that on at least seven occasions in the last two years, taxi drivers in Loughborough have just driven off and left her and her guide dog Hatti, waiting for help.
Sometimes she has been left standing at Loughborough train station for half an hour waiting for a taxi with cabs just driving off.
This has also happened to her at least 20 times in London.
Libby, who lives in Loughborough, won gold medals in both the T11 100m and T11 200m sprints at the 2016 Rio Olympic games.
She told the Echo: “It is just ignorant, and I am just left absolutely shocked sometimes because I can’t believe what has just happened.
“Some people just don’t think dogs should be in the car, but it still isn’t an excuse to just drive off and leave someone stranded waiting for a taxi
“I think the best advice to anyone who has had similar difficulties to myself is to stay strong.
“I have learned that you really need to be able to speak up about issues like this.
“People need to know just how annoying and upsetting it can be when simple things like being able to get a taxi are made harder by ignorant and rude taxi drivers.
“I have sometimes admitted defeat and just walked home late at night.
“I really feel that sometimes it is just Hatti that is discriminated against, but also sometimes I definitely take it personally, just because I have a visual impairment doesn’t make me different to anyone else.
“Some taxi drivers are really helpful, and really good, but I have had too many bad experiences now that I just prefer to use my own private one.
“Hatti is part of my family now, I have had her for two years, but also she is a working dog, she is clean and very well trained, so I just don’t understand why people still have this stigma and won’t take myself and her in the car.”
Libby is an ambassador for the charity Guide Dogs and Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan recently attended an event run by the charity in Parliament, to show her support for a move that taxi drivers should receive disability equality training when getting their licence.
Mrs Morgan told the Echo: “I think it is outrageous that this has been happening, and it just shows that the call for the equality training is real.
“It is very worrying to hear from so many people who have been illegally turned away from taxis because they travel with an assistance dog.”