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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 14:10 GMT
Access 'nightmare' for MBE campaigner
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle has very limited wheelchair access
A disability rights campaigner fears she will miss out on receiving an MBE at a ceremony because of the lack of wheelchair access at Cardiff Castle.

Jacqueline James, from Penarth, south Wales, is concerned that she will only receive her award from Prince Charles in a ground floor corridor.

Jacqueline James
Jacqueline James refused to go to Buckingham Palace

The main ceremony is taking place upstairs in the banquetting hall on Friday.

Mrs James, 48, has described the situation as a "nightmare".

"I'm very disappointed as they have known about it since January because my husband has been trying to arrange the access for me," said Mrs James.

But she has heard from a friend that the castle had said it was just not accessible.

"My work is about the rights of disabled people," she said.

"It's wonderful that people have thought to award me for the work, but the rights have not been afforded to me.

"I feel disappointed and upset," she added.

"It was going to be in the library but now even that appears unaccessible. I think we're going to have it in the corridor.

"It's turning into a nightmare in terms of access."

Alternative solutions

Mrs James, who is secretary of Disabled People's International, has used a wheelchair since she suffered a stroke when she was 28.

She has worked for numerous charities including Oxfam and Disability Wales.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles: Private ceremony

Her husband Max and her elderly parents are due to accompany her on the day, which is being held as part of the St David's Day celebrations.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, said they were attempting to come up with alternative solutions.

"We suggested that she could come to Buckingham Palace instead where there was plenty of lifts, but she declined," she said.

"St John Ambulance could carry her upstairs, but she has declined this and that is her choice.

"She has been offered a private investiture with the Prince of Wales," added the spokesman.

The spokeswoman also added that alternative locations in Cardiff had been explored but they had failed to match the castle.

BBC Wales's Caroline Evans
"It's a big day for Jacqueline James... but her preparations have been overshadowed"
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