Travelbiz E-Zine
5
September
2023

Ireland West Airport launches the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

#Traveltradetogether

Ireland West Airport is proud to announce they are the first airport in Ireland to become members of the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. Passengers with non-visible disabilities who choose to display the Sunflower will be provided with a free Sunflower Lanyard at the Customer Assistance Desk inside the Airport Terminal.

The Sunflower was first introduced in London’s Gatwick Airport in 2016, and since then is now recognised in over 220 international airports around the world. It lets passengers discreetly indicate that they may need support, understanding or a little extra time whilst navigating the airport, check in or security screening, or when boarding the aircraft.

By providing Sunflower Lanyards to passengers, Ireland West Airport aims to make the airport experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible for those with hidden disabilities. All airport staff have received training to recognise the Sunflower and provide support and assistance to those wearing it.

The launch of the Sunflower at Ireland West Airport is supported by Hidden Disabilities Sunflower national charity partner in Ireland, Variety – the Children’s Charity, who presented 9-year-old Kyle Heanue from Louisburgh, Co Mayo with a special mobility trike as part of Variety Ireland’s ‘Recycle Mobility Programme’. This initiative supported with the kind help of Minister Anne Rabbitte from The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth provides funding for special trikes to children with mobility issues across Ireland so they can be included in cycling activities with their family and friends.

Joe Gilmore Manging Director of Ireland West Airport said, “Ireland West Airport are very proud to become the latest airport member of the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. The airport prides itself in providing an accessible facility and ensuring the airport experience is as comfortable and stress-free as possible for all those with hidden disabilities. I would like to acknowledge the work carried out by Sarah Rowley and our customer services and operation teams in particular along with our colleagues in Ryanair in supporting this initiative and working with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower team to bring this to fruition. Going forward, we look forward to making the airport experience a memorable one for those passengers wearing the sunflower.”

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Ireland and Northern Ireland said, “I am thrilled that Ireland West Airport has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network. Ireland West Airport is the gateway to the spectacular Connacht region, and by recognising passengers with non-visible disabilities that choose to wear the Sunflower, it makes the region much more accessible to everyone. It is brilliant that we have been supported today to mark this occasion at Ireland West Airport by Minister Jack Chambers TD and our national partners Variety – the Children’s Charity of Ireland.”

Jack Chambers TD Minister of State for Transport said, “I am really pleased to be invited to the launch of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower at Ireland West Airport. It is important that people living with non-visible disabilities are provided with support and assistance when travelling, and it is great to see Joe Gilmore and his team at Ireland West Airport joining the globally recognised Sunflower network. The airport will provide complimentary Sunflower Lanyards to their passengers and staff with hidden disabilities to use when travelling and at home here in Ireland. It’s particularly relevant today having Variety Children’s Charity attending the launch, as they have presented a mobility trike to Kyle Heanue which will help him to be much more independent and open opportunities to travel. These state-of-the-art trikes, funded by my colleagues at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth are fully collapsible and can fit into the aircraft hold very easily.”

Derek O’Neill CEO of Variety – the Children’s Charity of Ireland said, “As a national charity that recognises and helps children across the disability spectrum, Variety Ireland are delighted to be here at Ireland West Airport today to present a special trike to Kyle from Co Mayo. With the magnificent on-going support of Minister Anne Rabbitte, together we are championing the cause that children regardless of their ability can have access and be included in cycling activities with their friends and family. The fact that Ireland West Airport now recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower demonstrates their own commitment to recognising and helping children with disabilities traveling through this fantastic airport.”

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