A BIRTHDAY party of deaf thrill-seekers was devastated to be refused entry to the Peeblesshire tree-top adventure park Go Ape.

Lynda McQueen and her seven friends travelled from as far afield as Fife last week for a special birthday bash at the forest assault course at Glentress.

Lynda had contacted the park and stated their condition in advance, however they weren't told this would be a problem until 20 minutes after they arrived.

A video which shows the site manager explaining that he couldn’t allow entry on safety grounds was uploaded to Facebook by one of the group and has had more than 159,000 views.

Lisa Johnston posted the video writing: “Totally unbelievable. We plan and paid to go Go Ape for Lynda’s 30th and all of us with six cars drove to Peebles only to be refused entry just because we are deaf.

"Have recorded video. It’s very sickening to be discriminated like that. We are able to do things. They said it’s for their safety.”

The manager explained that many of the Go Ape zip-wires rely on the use of radios.

When using the largest zip wire on the course, adventurers have to wait on a radio signal to be told if the landing is clear before sliding. 

The manager explained that the group’s safety would be at risk if they couldn’t hear such messages and there were no workers available to perform that function on the day.

After the mix-up, Lynda and her friends decided to go go-karting instead.

The owners, Tristram and Rebecca Mayhew, have since issued an apology: “We would like to make a profound apology to Lynda McQueen and her friends for turning them away from our Go Ape course at Peebles,” they said.

“It must have been particularly upsetting and disappointing for them all.

“The reason was that our course manager was concerned that the group, who are all profoundly deaf, would not be able to hear safety critical instructions and would therefore expose themselves to an unacceptably high risk of an accident. 

“Our course at Peebles is unique in that participants have to be able to hear radio messages from our instructors, telling them when it is safe to launch down two very long zip wires, which are several hundred metres long. 

"Not being able to hear these instructions would have put the customers in danger of zip wire collisions which can have very serious consequences. 

“If the party had had hearing people in their group they could have gone, in fact we have lots of deaf customers who do go round our Go Ape courses happily and safely. 

“Lynda contacted our call centre two days before her booking asking for an interpreter, but the call centre did not respond to her email until 20 minutes after her arrival time. 

“If our course manager had received the message from our call centre that they were a group of profoundly deaf customers, he would, if he had sufficient notice, have arranged for extra staff to be on site to accompany the group.

"Failing that he could have contacted Lynda asking whether she could bring hearing friends with her group or book for a later date when we would be able to provide additional staff. 

“Unfortunately and very regrettably that message was not passed on to our team at Peebles in time.

“We also would like to apologise to the deaf community because in May we were alerted to a similar event when we disappointed two deaf customers.” the owners added.

“Since then we have been working to put in place extra measures to ensure that we can always enable profoundly deaf customers to enjoy Go Ape if we have sufficient notice to be able to put additional staffing in place.”