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Blind father-of-two ‘humiliated’ by Barking food shop snub to guide dog

15:54 17 September 2013

Mark and his dog

Mark and his dog "Eddie" outside Subway in Vicarage Field Shopping Centre, Barking

Archant

A blind father-of-two was left “humiliated” after staff at a fast food chain refused to serve him because he had his guide dog with him.

Mark Parham was forced to walk out with his daughters Hannah, seven, and Connie, five, and wife Mim, 41, from a branch of Subway at Vicarage Field Shopping Centre, Barking, on Friday evening, September 13.

The 43-year-old, who has been legally blind for 20 years, said his faithful companion Eddie — short for Edward — was wearing the normal fluorescent yellow jacket identifying him as a guide dog when it happened.

“It was humiliating more than anything else. It’s very upsetting for the children to see their dad treated like that,” he said.

“It’s also frustrating because I couldn’t get my two daughters fed.”

Mark said he was left waiting for 15 minutes after staff refused to serve him but took the orders of other customers, leaving him with little choice but to leave and go elsewhere.

Eddie, a Golden Retriever and Labrador cross, is Mark’s second guide dog and had only been out with his owner for the first time two weeks prior to visiting Subway.

“It’s hard enough being blind and it isn’t easy handling a guide dog,” he said, adding it wasn’t the first time he had encountered difficulty when with his dog.

A spokeswoman for Subway said: “We want to reassure our customers that working guide dogs are always allowed in Subway stores.

“All Subway stores are independently owned and operated by franchisees. We are aware of an incident at the Vicarage Field Shopping Centre and are investigating the case at this particular franchise.”

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