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Takeaway owner's apology to blind woman

PUBLISHED: 08:50 22 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 30 June 2010

A Norwich kebab shop owner and a blind woman whom staff had mistakenly asked to leave because of her guide dog have been reconciled.

Siobhan Meade, 26, said she wished the ground would swallow her up after staff at Master Chef Kebab and Pizza in Prince of Wales Road refused to serve her a pizza when she went in with her guide dog Liza.

A Norwich kebab shop owner and a blind woman whom staff had mistakenly asked to leave because of her guide dog have been reconciled.

Siobhan Meade, 26, said she wished the ground would swallow her up after staff at Master Chef Kebab and Pizza in Prince of Wales Road refused to serve her a pizza when she went in with her guide dog Liza.

But the shop's manager Homauoun Afshar, who had been abroad when the incident occurred, apologised to her on his return, and gave her a free meal.

Mr Afshar said: “I was shocked when I heard what happened. When I went away I had told my staff not to allow any dogs into the restaurant, but this did not mean guide dogs, of course, but they misunderstood.

“I was away when the woman visited and they made a mistake.

“I wrote to the Guides Dog organisation to apologise for what happened and I have also apologised to the woman concerned. I'm happy that she has taken up my offer of a free meal.”

Miss Meade, who is from Gorleston, said she was happy the matter had been resolved.

She said: “Mr Afshar was very friendly and apologetic, and I do accept his apology. I'm glad that there's now a sign on the restaurant window saying that guide dogs are welcome. Hopefully by highlighting what happened, it won't happen to me or other blind people in the future.”

After the original incident, she contacted Master Chef through the Guide Dogs organisation to ask if its owner was aware of the Disability Discrimination Act and its rules on guide dogs.

The 1995 act means it is illegal for restaurants to bar guide dogs and their owners must be treated like any other customer.

When she received no reply two letters were sent to the shop owner by the Guide Dogs access information officer Gill Kenyon, and Miss Meade said she was about to start legal proceedings over her claims that she was refused service, before Mr Afshar apologised. It could have resulted in the owner appearing before magistrates and being fined.

Miss Meade said she was asked to leave Master Chef after going there with Liza and her boyfriend Mark Watts in October last year, before they went to see a film. She said staff told her to get out and apparently made shooing motions.

Miss Meade, who wants to work in the media, said: “I felt so humiliated. I wished the ground would open me up and swallow me whole.

“I could not believe what was happening to me. This is the 21st century and modern England and I still have to fight for my rights to be treated as an equal.”

Have you been refused service or treated badly in the city? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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