Advertisement

Sally Phillips 'upset' after son with Down's syndrome excluded from trampoline park

Actress Sally Phillips said she was "so upset" after her son who has Down's syndrome was not allowed to play at a trampoline park.

She said she was told Olly, 19, needed a letter from his GP to take part.

The Miranda star told BBC Breakfast that children and young people like Olly were being "singled out for being different".

Oxygen Free Jump, the trampoline park, said it was "deeply sorry" he could not take part and was left disappointed.

The company said it was following safety guidance from British Gymnastics.

Phillips, also known for roles in Smack the Pony and the Bridget Jones's Diary films, told Breakfast: "This admin burden on special needs parents to be part of the community - to do a normal thing, to take normal risks that everyone else is allowed to take - is just unbearable."

"Times have really changed for people with Down's syndrome," she added. "Olly is used to being able to do what his contemporaries can do."

She said they had gone to the London activity centre with Olly's younger brother, and his brother's friend, having been "hundreds of times before". When they arrived, a woman on the front desk took her to one side before calling over a manager.

"I was so, so upset for Olly to be prevented," she said. "There were so many things wrong with it... one is that they're weeding out people with visible disabilities, so if you have an invisible disability, you're not required to bring in a doctor's letter."

After the incident, she said her son "burst into tears" in the car park. He told BBC Breakfast he "felt really upset" but that, as someone who has done gymnastics previously, he still wants to go to trampoline parks despite last week's experience.

Sally Phillips with her son Olly, both wearing Hawaiian style shirts and smiling
Sally says she and Olly want to "get on with having a normal life" [Getty Images]

Phillips said the information is "out of date", explaining that Olly was required to have an X-ray checking for any neck instability to join the British Gymnastics Association.

This X-ray does not "give the information required" to take part in physical activities, she added, as neck instability issues can only be detected once symptoms are being experienced - so if there are no symptoms, "you can participate like anyone else".

"It would be fine if there was a sort of genuine issue but it strikes me that the issues are, the neck thing is just misinformed and the insurers had found something they can ask for so they asked for it, without it actually being helpful," she said.

She said she was told Olly would need a doctor's letter every time he went to the trampoline park, meaning using NHS resources to make an appointment or paying out for a letter.

Phillips - who along with Olly is a patron of the Down's Syndrome Association - said she had received many replies from parents who had gone through the same thing after recounting the episode on X, previously Twitter.

There is a "big psychological effect" on those who are not allowed to do the same as others, she added.

In its statement, Oxygen Free Jump said it was sorry that Olly could not take part and was left disappointed, adding: "The only reason a company like ours exists is to help everyone, but particularly children, enjoy active play.

"We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the relevant parties to review the current guidance and enable as much active play as we can, safely."

In response, Phillips said it was not fair for the onus to be on parents to help make the changes, but that she would engage in discussions.

"They will allow us to do the work for them to change, whereas actually I think they need to educate themselves," she said. "We'd really appreciate it if we didn't have to and we could just get on with having a normal life."

MP Caroline Nokes wrote on X that it was a "pretty grim day for inclusion" following Phillips' interview, and a separate story about a photography company offering parents class photos without children with complex needs. The firm involved has since apologised.

"These are battles families should not be having to fight," she wrote.