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40 local families get a taste of airport life at Gatwicks biggest ever Accessibility Day

Travelling through an airport can be challenging if you have a disability and 40 families and carers attended Gatwick’s biggest ever Accessibility Day this weekend (17 November) to get a taste of airport processes before they fly.



Thanks to easyJet, an aircraft was made available for the first time during an Accessibility Day so that families, their children and carers could experience boarding and sitting in the interior of an aeroplane.

Virgin Atlantic also provided their private V-Lounge for the families to relax and enjoy refreshments. While ‘airside’ the tours also visited Gatwick’s new sensory room which offers a relaxing, private and fully interactive environment to calm passengers who may feel overwhelmed in busy and unfamiliar airport surroundings.

Representatives from across the airport helped to run the event in the airport’s North terminal including staff from airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and TUI, Gatwick’s security, terminal and special assistance teams, the police, the fire service, surface transport team and Border Force officials.

Families taking part could also replicate ‘checking in’, ride on assistance buggies, meet trained security dogs and the police, and watch the x-ray machines in action.

The Accessibility Day comes in the week that the 2000th member of staff working on the airport campus became a Dementia Friend – the Alzheimer’s Society’s initiative to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Anyone who requires assistance when travelling through Gatwick is encouraged to contact the airport’s special assistance team or their airline.

Sara Marchant, from Gatwick Airport coordinated the event and said:

“The feedback we get from families is fantastic and shows that the Accessibility Day really helps make their journey more enjoyable and relaxing when they come to travel through the airport for real.

“So many people from organisations across the airport come together to make this event happen and I would like to thank everyone for helping to make it such a success. I was also delighted to welcome visitors from other UK airports to the event as it is important we all learn from each other to help make our passengers’ journeys are as enjoyable as possible.”

Celine McGuigan, Accessibility and Assistance Manager, easyJet, said:

“At easyJet we want to provide an enjoyable and seamless travel experience for all our customers, including those with accessibility needs. This is why we set up ESAAG, our Special Assistance Advisory Group, in 2012, so it could provide guidance and advice to us on the services provided to passengers who require assistance.

The group is chaired by Lord David Blunkett and is made up of experts in disability issues and accessible travel. We are pleased to be part of the Accessibility Day to give people the opportunity to find out more about what support they can get from Gatwick Airport and easyJet when travelling.”


Gatwick Express team gives cash boost to Crawley charity

The Gatwick Express team has given a local charity a cash boost following a number of staff fundraising initiatives in recent months.



Maria Cook, Chair of Autism Support Crawley (left) takes delivery of a 'rail ticket cheque' from Gatwick Express managers

Autism Support Crawley, which supports children and adults on the autistic spectrum, has been given a generous donation of £1,931.15 thanks to kind-hearted Gatwick Express staff who have taken part in a series of activities at Gatwick Airport Station, including cake sales, a Christmas jumper competition and bucket appeals.

Station staff were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque to Autism Support Crawley on Tuesday, May 21 to the chairperson of the charity, Maria Cook.

She said:

“We are thrilled to receive such wonderful support from everyone at Gatwick Express.

“Their response to the voluntary work that we do for over 1,200 families across Sussex and Surrey is overwhelming. This will go a long way in helping us to continue to support families and work with lots of different professions to improve understanding, acceptance and inclusion in society,”she added.

Gatwick Express staff were inspired to support the charity after hosting a group from Autism Support Crawley for a ‘Try a Train’ event, during which autistic young people and adults were shown around the station to help them become more familiar and confident when travelling by train, as well as how to buy tickets to support more independent travel.

Gatwick area station manager David Stronell said:

“We’re really proud of all the work we have done to help the charity. The whole station has been involved in the fundraising.

“Since we started supporting the charity, it has sparked a lot of conversations and a lot of staff have talked about having children on the autistic spectrum. It has brought us all together and got people opening up about autism, which in turn has raised awareness for us all,” said David.

Charity trustee, member and service user Charlotte Gover said:

“The amazing donation from Gatwick Express will support so many of our families by enabling us to continue to provide information sessions, conferences, coffee mornings, evening meetings and much needed inclusive family events.”

Staff at Gatwick are now gearing up for their next fundraising events so watch this space!

This month also marks the 35th birthday of Gatwick Express and there have been plenty of activities going on to celebrate the occasion.

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