Human Interest

Teen athlete with Down syndrome rejected by skydive company after arriving for scheduled jump

A teenager was allegedly turned away from a planned charity skydive because he has Down syndrome.

Lloyd Martin, age 19, had raised £2,500 for his gymnastics club leading up to a sponsored tandem skydive with GoSkydive. Martin, who set a world record at this year’s London Marathon when he became the youngest person with Down syndrome to complete a marathon, was cleared to skydive by his doctor. According to Martin’s mother, Ceri Hooper, his doctor said he was “fit to jump” and the company was informed that Martin has Down syndrome when the skydive was booked. Yet after they raised funds and drove the 86 miles from their home town for the jump, they were told it would not be possible.

“After we’d got through the briefing and checked in and everything, they then said, ‘No, he’s got Down’s syndrome, he can’t jump,'” Hooper said. “Tell us at the point of booking, don’t let us all take days off and drive for an hour and a half to get there and then tell us when he’s disappointed.”

She added, “[The instructor] said, ‘We don’t know how someone with Down’s syndrome is going to react when they jump out of a plane’.

“Well, you don’t know how anyone is going to react when they jump out of a plane,” Hooper said. “We were all shocked.”

The rest of Martin’s gymnastics team decided not to jump in solidarity with him, but he was disappointed.

“We’ve had so many barriers, so many doors shut in our face in the past. We’ve felt we’re getting somewhere with inclusivity, and then this happens,” said Hooper.

GoSkydive’s managing director Gordon Blamire responded, saying, “There is no doubt that we could have better communicated the requirement for Lloyd to be assessed prior to his visit to GoSkydive, [and] for this we are extremely apologetic.”

He added, “We continue to learn and improve our interactions and this instance drives direct change in our policies.” He said the team would like to get to know Martin better before taking him skydiving.

“While we understand the frustrations of Lloyds’ family, our commitment is to Lloyd’s wellbeing. We want the opportunity to get to know Lloyd, his conditions and what he needs from us before we can take him skydiving,” he said.

Cooper noted, however, that no effort was made to get to know him. “They didn’t come and talk to Lloyd,” she said.

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