Mum ‘dis­gusted’ as Ralph, 2, misses Santa visit

Leek Post & Times - - NEWS -

THE owner of a pop­u­lar rein­deer lodge has apol­o­gised to the par­ents of a two-year-old boy - after the fam­ily queued for two hours be­fore walk­ing out with­out see­ing Santa.

Hay­ley Wal­ton and Liam Tyler had a 12.30pm time slot for their son, Ralph Tyler, to see Fa­ther Christ­mas at Blith­bury Rein­deer Lodge.

They say they started queu­ing at 11.10am and were still wait­ing at 1.10pm when they left.

Now Hay­ley is cur­rently £91 out of pocket as she waits for a re­fund from the at­trac­tion.

Owner Stephen Swin­ner­ton has blamed the is­sue on a staff short­age and cus­tomers who turned up late be­cause of road­works.

Hay­ley, Liam and Ralph vis­ited the Ruge­ley farm on De­cem­ber 15. Their party also in­cluded two other adults.

Hay­ley, aged 34, of Leek, said: “We ar­rived and saw the rein­deers for about half-an­hour be­fore head­ing to the play area. When we booked we were told not to queue in the con­fir­ma­tion area, but peo­ple were al­ready queu­ing so Liam joined while we stayed where we were. We had a 12.30pm time slot and Liam started queu­ing at 11.10am and when he was about five fam­i­lies from the front we joined him.

“Two fam­i­lies be­hind us had 11.45am slots so they were put in front of us and after al­most two hours of wait­ing we thought we could not wait any longer and there could still be other fam­i­lies be­hind us with ear­lier slots than us.

“To top it off we were told to go to the cabin to com­plain and we had to queue there. They took our de­tails and said they would re­fund our money that night.

“What hap­pened was ridicu­lous. It was un­or­gan­ised chaos. Our son now hasn’t been to a Christ­mas event. He’s only two but I feel sorry for those kids in the queue that were between five and seven, it could have ru­ined Christ­mas for them.”

Mr Swin­ner­ton says he has been ‘in­tim­i­dated, ver­bally abused and threat­ened’ by some cus­tomers.

He said: “We are sorry this has hap­pened. Un­for­tu­nately three mem­bers of staff were not in on that Satur­day and ad­di­tion­ally we had 15 fam­i­lies who turned up late due to road­works which we still ac­com­mo­dated.

“We’ve been do­ing this for 11 years and have never had this prob­lem be­fore. I’m try­ing my hard­est to sort out re­funds.

“We’re only a small work­ing farm and haven’t got the staff to man the phones and emails, al­though dur­ing these is­sues we’ve been in­tim­i­dated, ver­bally abused and threat­ened which is not nice.”

Hay­ley Wal­ton, part­ner Liam Tyler and their two-year-old son Ralph Tyler.

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