Community pitches in with birthday bash after disabled teenager’s party is cancelled

Gabiel Ingram with parents Ben and Victoria Huntington and brothers Caleb Ingram, 9, and Jamie Carr (back).
Gabiel Ingram with parents Ben and Victoria Huntington and brothers Caleb Ingram, 9, and Jamie Carr (back).
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A big-hearted community has come together after plans for a disabled teenager’s birthday party fell through.

Gabriel Ingram, who has multiple health problems and special learning needs, had never been well enough on his birthday before to host a party.

Gabiel Ingram with his parents Ben and Victoria Huntington.

Gabiel Ingram with his parents Ben and Victoria Huntington.

The young lad, who has Down’s syndrome, has also battled leukemia, undergone open heart surgery, has chest problems, including having pneumonia twice, and has Atlanto Axial Instability, which is a neck condition making him prone to injury.

The pupil at Hopewood Academy, Easington Colliery, was looking forward to celebrating his 15th birthday at The Merry Go Round, in Hartlepool, with friends from school.

But just three days before the event was due to take place the pub phoned to say they had just checked the online booking and the young people were over the height and age restrictions to have the party at the chosen time, between 4pm and 6pm, when there would be younger children in there.

But, after posting the situation on social media, the community has rallied to help and a big birthday bash, with disco, food and entertainment, will be thrown for Gabriel at the end of the month at Peterlee Central Club, which has offered the use of the hall.

It is a big, big deal for children with special needs to go to a party

Victoria Huntington

Gariel’s mum, Victoria Huntington, said the family has been heartened by the generosity of the community in helping them out in their hour of need.

Victoria, who is married to Ben and is also mum to Jamie Carr, 25, Devon Carr, 20, and nine-year-old Caleb Ingram, said: “A lot of people have been in touch saying they would like to help.

“People have been wonderful, they have been disgusted by what happened, but really wanted to help us out.”

She said she was touched that so many people wanted to see Gabriel have a party.

A spokesman for The Merry Go Round, said: “There has been an unfortunate misunderstanding in this instance and we are extremely sorry for any confusion or upset this has caused.

“Because the booking was made online, we did not realise until a short time before the party that it had been booked for a 15-year-old, when the age limit for the play area is 12.

“For the safety of younger children, we cannot have those older than 12 in the play area when it is open for children under 12. However, we were more than happy to offer exclusive use of the play area for the party at a separate time that day or the next morning.

“We aim to provide a welcoming environment for everyone. From now on, we will look to telephone guests after they make an online booking with us to ensure this does not happen again.”