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A youngster was left stranded at Gatwick Airport for five hours this week without his wheelchair in shocking delay.
Tony Hudgell is a double amputee and winner of the Pride of Britain award and was returning from a magical trip in Lapland.
Unfortunately, his wheelchair was nowhere to be found when they disembarked from their Jet2 flight at Gatwick Airport.
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The specialist wheelchair cost the family £6,500 but was not there on arrival despite parents Paula and Mark pre-booking assistance.
A furious Paula tweeted a snap of young Tony on a luggage conveyor belt at 3am this morning.
She wrote: "Appalled with @jet2tweets @gatwick_airport have been stranded for 3 hrs now with no wheelchair as its still on the plane.
"3am no help. Double amputee no legs as his wheelchair is his legs. Trying to get help or assistance and nothing #gatwickairport #disabled #wheelchair."
In response to fellow Twitter users she added that they had been waiting for three hours, claiming this was following a "4.5 hrs delay which we expected but to not have his wheelchair at the end is appalling".
The mother-of-eight also hit out at airport ground handling firm Menzies Aviation.
She said: "Your (sic) appalling leaving an eight year old double amputee without his wheelchair four hours and counting."
The family say his wheelchair arrived “twisted and bent”.
Jet2 replied on Twitter at 5.20am, saying they were 'incredibly sorry' and trying to solve the situation.
Paula tweeted in response at 6.30am: "Sorted now but five hours too late as far as a wheelchair user needs ignored. Assistance was booked in advance.
“Should have been sorted and when it did come out it was put on the conveyor belt and got twisted and bent. Full complaint on its way. Wheelchair cost us £6500 so cross."
She added: "The luggage hadn't come off either. Five hours later wheelchair appears on conveyor belt bent and chipped. It was supposed to be there to get him off the plane but no it wasn't."
The family – made up of Paula, Mark, Tony, and siblings Jaden, Jess and Lucy – then had to drive home in the snow to their home in Kent.
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A spokesperson for Jet2 said: "We would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Hudgell and his family for the delay on receiving his wheelchair and for any inconvenience caused as a result. As an award-winning airline that prides itself on industry-leading customer service, we take matters such as this extremely seriously and are working with our ground handling agent to investigate how this happened.
“We can confirm that the delay was due to Gatwick Airport being temporarily closed due to snow, which meant that the baggage handler experienced severe delays offloading luggage. Unfortunately, this included Mr Hudgell’s wheelchair.
“We recognise that this should not be the experience that our customers receive when travelling with us and can confirm that we have been in touch with Ms Hudgell to offer both our sincere apologies and to do everything we can to rectify this situation.”
Tony became a double amputee after both of his legs were amputated after severe physical abuse by biological parents Jody Simpson and Anthony Smith.
He was fostered by Paula and Mark and then adopted.
Brave Tony has gone on to raise and impressive £1.7milllion for the Evelina London Children's Hospital and won several awards for his efforts.
Tony’s Law was introduced this year – it increases the maximum jail terms for those convicted of child cruelty offences.
A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: "We are aware of this awful situation and apologise for the distress caused to the Hudgell family.
"This is unacceptable and we have picked it up as a matter of urgency with the airline, Jet2, and their ground handler, Menzies.
"We experienced significant disruption last night and had to close the airport for a two-hour period for safety reasons.”
Daily Star has also contacted Menzies Aviation for comment.
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