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Disabled parking bay for RAF veteran Claire Baker vandalised

By Eleanor Perkins

A veteran who was discharged from the RAF because of her service-based injures claims her car was keyed because she now has a disabled parking bay.

Claire Baker, of Church Path, Deal, says she was left deeply upset after she discovered scratches across all four doors of her blue Volkswagen Golf, which was parked in Middle Deal Road.

The damage was noticed just 10 days after the bay was marked out.

Claire Baker’s car parked in her new disabled bay, which was marked out earlier this month
Claire Baker’s car parked in her new disabled bay, which was marked out earlier this month

The senior aircraft professional served in the Royal Air Force for six years until 2008 when she was medically discharged.

She suffered an injury during her time in service but does not wish to disclose the incident that caused her injuries.

The 39-year-old has since suffered with chronic and degenerative conditions and has recently started using a stick to walk and other aids around the house.

She maintains a job and does not claim benefits but with her condition deteriorating everyday, she applied for a disability parking bay earlier this year to make everyday life easier and to complement the occupational health and pain management treatment she receives.

But now feels she has been discriminated against by a person living in that road and she believes the incident should be investigated as a hate crime, not just criminal damage.

Mrs Baker, who moved to Church Path in December last year, said: “I have taken this very personally. My only conclusion I can come to is because I have been designated a disabled bay parking spot.

Claire Baker with her husband Edward
Claire Baker with her husband Edward

“I understand parking in the area isn’t easy, as one resident had already aggressively voiced, however those who know me will understand this wasn’t an easy decision.”

Mrs Baker says she has frequently had to park in Bridgeside off Albert Road or at the end of Matthews Close.

The veteran, who now works as a senior lead auditor and principle trainer at The British Assessment Bureau, had to provide evidence of her disability, including documents from the Ministry of Defence and her doctor.

She added: “I requested a disabled bay and support from occupational therapist with aids around the house as a way for me to try and maintain a bit of normality.

“Not all disabilities are visible. I suffer with chronic and degenerative conditions as a result of an injury I sustained during an incident whilst serving my country as a member of Her Majesty Armed Forces.

“I do not expect people to understand the pain I suffer everyday both physically and mentally, the operations and medical procedures I have endured, nor the terrible side effects of the medication I take or the embarrassment of some of the other consequences as a result of the injury.

Claire Baker's car was keyed across all four doors (4482935)
Claire Baker's car was keyed across all four doors (4482935)

“It has taken me a long time to ask for additional outside help, as a veteran it’s not something we do – chin up and all that.

“I don’t want to come across as a victim. I’m just trying to live a normal life and maintain it for as long as possible.”

Mrs Baker is a step mum to her husband Edward’s two daughters. In 2012 she met the former Royal Marine who has lived in Deal since 1991 and they married last year.

The bay is only a interim measure and is subject to approval following a consultation.

Mrs Baker said: “After this incident I feel it won’t be approved due to objectionable comments.”

She says she is in discussion with Dover District Council over reducing the length of it and moving it further towards a dropped kerb to allow more cars to park. If approved, it will be restricted to blue badge holders only and will be made enforceable.

Police are investigating the incident which is believed that between 4pm on Friday, September 28 and 8.20am on Saturday, September 29.

Anyone with information should call police on 01843 222289, quoting reference ZY/057968/18, or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.

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