Transcript: 'We bought a pub for our 12-year-old son'

This is a transcript of We bought a pub for our 12-year-old son as first broadcast on 24 May 2019 and presented by Emma Tracey

KERRY - If you could say anything on the BBC what would it be?

BEN - That even if you're disabled you're normal.

[Jingle: The Ouch podcast]

EMMA - Kerry Mathie bought a pub for her disabled son, Ben, who's 12 and has spina bifida. I learned this when she replied to a viral tweet about disability discrimination at a London establishment, and I just had to get the lowdown on why. You're listening to the Ouch podcast. I'm Emma Tracey, and if you want to tell us stuff you can email ouch@bbc.co.uk, but in the meantime, here's my skype chat with Kerry and Ben.

EMMA - So Kerry, yesterday you were scrolling through your Twitter feed and what did you see?

KERRY - A story about a young lady who was denied service at a pub in London, and as I read further it was apparently due to the fact that she was disabled. I got rather angry.

EMMA - So the tweet said: My sister, who has MS, went to X pub in London. First they said, "We don't do disableds," and then the manager said, "We don't serve disabled people." And there was a lot of response wasn't there?

KERRY - Oh, yeah. I think everybody was just the same as me, they were just like am I really reading this right? Did this really happen? You know, how can a business of any sort say something so awful to anybody? I can't imagine ever going anywhere with my son and being turned away.

EMMA - What did you write back?

KERRY - Well, originally I wrote a tweet out that was full of expletives. I was very angry, and I thought, no, no, no, no, that's not me. So I deleted that and I thought no, I have a disabled son who enjoys very much going and socialising, so I popped a picture on from a couple of weeks ago when we had an '80s night at the pub and basically just put on there, "Well, we do do disabled, because we bought a pub so our son can be comfortable."

EMMA - So you bought a pub so that your disabled son could be comfortable?

KERRY - Mainly, yes. It was our local pub anyway but it was being sold to building executives and they were going to knock it down and build whatever, flats and things, and we got given the opportunity to take on the pub ourselves so we jumped at it.

EMMA - Were you pub owners before?

KERRY - No, we're not natural born landlords and landladies I'm afraid. We used to have a farm shop and now we have a pub.

EMMA - And your son is 12, Ben, who's here and we'll talk to in a second. He's 12. Why would he need a pub to go to?

KERRY - Ben is absolutely fanatical about music. Live music, loves concerts and things, but we struggle to go to concerts with him being in a wheelchair, which, you know, I totally get, and a lot of places won't allow him because he's only 12 and we didn't want him to miss out. It's his passion, it's something he's going to do when he's older and we've been going to this pub ever since he was about six or seven to listen to the live music and we just wanted to carry it on. It's not just for Ben, it's for the rest of our children as well and for families in the area.

EMMA - Let's talk to Ben. Can you hear me, Ben?

BEN - Yeah.

EMMA - How did you feel when you found out that Mum and Dad were going to buy the pub that you go to to listen to your music?

BEN - Very proud.

EMMA - Were you surprised?

BEN - No.

EMMA - Why were you not surprised? Are they the kind of people who would just get up and do something like that?

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - We are a family of not just sitting around moaning about things, if we're going to do something we're just going to do it.

EMMA - Yeah. And how much did the pub mean to you? How much enjoyment did you get out of it and do you continue to get out of it?

BEN - A lot.

EMMA - Tell me about what you like about it.

BEN - Everything.

KERRY - What's your job title?

BEN - Entertainments Manager.

EMMA - And what does an entertainments manager do?

BEN - Sorts out what we have every weekend.

EMMA - How do you find out about the bands and who's good and everything?

BEN - Just watch them on Facebook and that.

KERRY - Yeah, he goes on to mine or his dad's Facebook, because he's too young to have social media, and he will have a look and see local bands don't you? You listen to them.

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - People send us requests don't they, and you listen to them. A lot of it's word of mouth. But yeah, there are lots of ways aren't there, and we use some agencies.

EMMA - And what part do you play?

BEN - I message them.

EMMA - So do you have good relationships with lots of artists then?

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - And a lot of them have become very close friends as well haven't they, Ben?

BEN - Yeah.

EMMA - And why do you like doing that job?

BEN - Because I just fell in love with music.

KERRY - He's very interested in the studio engineering side as well.

EMMA - And so you play any instruments or sing or anything?

KERRY - What are you learning to play?

BEN - The electric guitar.

EMMA - Oh wow, that's noisy.

KERRY - Er, yeah. I'm really sorry for the neighbours.

EMMA - So Kerry, in terms of the pub do you notice more disabled people than usual coming in because your pub is clearly very inclusive and people always see Ben, a wheelchair user, being there?

KERRY - I think we are, especially the last six or seven months. It's getting round word of mouth, not only are we wheelchair friendly, but we are accessible to everybody. Everybody is welcome, it's as simple as that.

EMMA - What are the little things that you do that you know makes sure that it's welcome to everybody?

KERRY - I think simple things really. We have a disabled toilet. And just making sure that it's accessible to everybody. I mean my father's Crohn's, so he gets a lot of funny looks when he uses the disabled toilet, because to look at him it's invisible. Simple things, making sure that there's plenty of room to get round tables, making sure that they can get to the bar, and just the general persona. You know, you just treat everybody the same.

EMMA - Ben, do you go to a special school or do you go to mainstream school?

BEN - Mainstream.

EMMA - And what's that like?

BEN - Very nice.

EMMA - What do you like about it?

BEN - Everything. Most lessons. Teachers. Just…

KERRY - The other pupils are brilliant aren't they?

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - They've all grown up with Ben. You're comfortable aren't you? You feel safe.

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - When you went to secondary school we were really, really worried, but like every other parent is when their child goes up to secondary school, but even more so with Ben because of his disabilities and the wheelchair and everything, and they have been amazing. He had to have time off school last year because he's had a major operation on his hip, he's had all his hip rebuilt. We nearly lost you didn't we?

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - You went into a coma.

EMMA - Oh, goodness.

KERRY - His school were amazing. The school was messaging every day to see how he was doing. They've had to change lesson plans for you haven't they? They have just done everything you could possibly think, and we haven't had to ask. We haven't had to scream and shout like a lot of parents with children with disabilities. We always said we'd never be the sort of parents that would scream and shout and demand things, but unfortunately, as people with disabilities are aware, you do sometimes have to scream and shout, just to get noticed.

EMMA - Having your hip rebuilt, that sounds painful?

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - It was, wasn't it? It was very painful for you.

BEN - Yeah.

KERRY - And he didn't complain once.

EMMA - Wow. And what did you spend all your time doing when you were recovering?

BEN - Listening to music.

EMMA - Who are your favourite bands?

KERRY - Who did we go and see, the film?

BEN - Queen.

EMMA - Oh, wow. So you're into Queen?

BEN - Yeah.

EMMA - Very good. I was told you were a chatterbox, Ben.

KERRY - [laughs] He is normally.

BEN - Yeah.

EMMA - Oh dear. I'd love you to tell me something. If you could say anything on the BBC what would it be?

BEN - That even if you're disabled you're normal.

EMMA -Tell me the name of your pub, Kerry?

KERRY - It's the Harrow Inn Free House, it's in Boughton in Nottinghamshire.

EMMA - It sounds like a great place. Would it be okay if we came down and visited some time?

KERRY - Yeah, absolutely.


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