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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Cerebral palsy sufferer Jamie Cook claims he was refused place in Maidstone Amateur Operatic Society show because of disability

16 December 2013
by James Walker
An amateur performer claims he has been refused a role in a Maidstone town centre production because he is disabled. 
Jamie Cook, who has cerebral palsy, auditioned to perform in Maidstone Amateur Operatic Society's Half a Sixpence show at the Hazlitt Theatre, but did not get a part. 
A private letter bearing the society's letterhead says his mobility issues backstage were a serious concern. 
Cerebral palsy sufferer Jamie Cook and Richard Hearnden-Webb former honourable secretary of Maidstone Amatuer Operatic Society

Cerebral palsy sufferer Jamie Cook and Richard Hearnden-Webb former honourable secretary of Maidstone Amatuer Operatic Society

But the organisation said he was not right for the role available.
He was instead offered a place in the society's concert party which is booked to perform at venues, plus membership.
Mr Cook, from Maidstone, said: "This made me feel upset and angry. I did all that I could have done.
"I can't see how my condition places any limits on me. I have had it all my life, I am used to it, it is normal to me. I never let it get in the way of what I want to do.

"I have been singing since I 
was very young, longer than I can remember. I have been in a choir before and always go to see the society’s shows. This is my passion."
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His condition means that he moves a little more slowly than other people.
The situation outraged the society's former secretary, Richard Hearnden-Webb, who resigned in November. 
He said: "For them to say he can perform in a concert hall but not in a big production is wrong. If you're good enough for one you’re good enough for both."
Mike Sutton, chairman of the society, said: "Mr Cook does have mobility issues, but that's not something we take into account when choosing an actor's part. 
"We held auditions for our show at the beginning of September and he came to us some weeks after that.
"We had no problem with his singing and if he was right for the role we would have found a way of fitting him in. I have been turned down for two roles this year. It happens."
He added the offer of membership was still open.
The Hazlitt said it is fully compliant with Disability Discrimination Act regulations.

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