The parents of a young girl with a rare condition have spoken out about their "hellish" experience at a Swindon Asda supermarket.

Hayley Clarke hoped she would be able to take daughter Addy, 6, who uses a wheelchair, to Asda's Haydon Wick store while husband Dave took son Samuel to the skate park nextdoor. 

But the couple were disheartened to find the branch only has two wheelchair trolleys - neither of which were anywhere to be seen.

What should have been a simple trip to the supermarket turned into a nightmare for the Clarke family. They say staff told them the two disabled trolleys were either out of order or "around somewhere".

Dave said: "We had thought Hayley could take Addy to do a sneaky shop for birthday treats in Asda.

"But I'd challenge anyone to push a wheelchair whilst carrying a handbag, a change bag and trying to fit a week's shopping in a basket.

"For such a big shopping centre, it's supposed to service the whole of north Swindon and surely the ability to only have two disabled shoppers at once is just a ridiculous notion.

Swindon Advertiser:

"And why is there no designated place for the trolleys for people to find when they are not used?

"When I did try to speak to someone in authority, it very much felt like we were an annoyance and a bit of a hassle to accommodate. Families like ours have to fight for everything.

"Supermarkets are not generally set up for children with disabilities or parents who are trying to do normal life with their children.

"We're not looking for privileges, we just want equality and to get through the day as any other family going about our normal business."

Addy was diagnosed with an extremely rare regressive brain disease called Batten's Disease in September 2020.

Swindon Advertiser: Mum Hayley with AddyMum Hayley with Addy  

Children with the disease suffer worsening seizures and lose their sight and motor skills. The family was told Addy could die before her 10th birthday.

She now relies on the use of a wheelchair and is losing her sight. Her declining sight is part of the reason why Hayley and Dave usually enjoy taking her to the supermarket.

"These normal experiences are so important to her. Whilst we have the time with her, we enjoy doing life together with her," Dave added.

"Because she's going blind, noise and bright colours and movement are so fundamental to her enjoyment. She, like many girls and boys, loves going to the shop and gazing in wonder at the bustle.

"As someone who can't get up and move around very easily, the concept of business is very helpful for her to stimulate her senses. 

"When we weren't enabled to do that in such a helpful way, it created stress as opposed to a loving environment she would be able to access."

Swindon Advertiser: Addy with dad DaveAddy with dad Dave

The family feel they are often "brushed to one side" because of their daughter's disabilities; whether that be when they are ordering taxis or when they are trying to get quotes for adaptations to their house.

Mums on a Mission's Anna Bird shared a similar experience with disabled trolleys. 

"Shopping trollies that accommodate children with disabilities are an absolute lifeline for us," she said.

"Popping to the supermarket is a very basic but essential activity that most people take for granted - but for us it's only possible to take our children when these trollies are available.

"Unfortunately our experience is very hit and miss when it comes to the availability of these trollies at various supermarkets."

An Asda spokesman said: "We aim to make a trip to our stores as hassle-free as possible for every customer and we thank the Clarke family for bringing their concerns to our attention.

"We have committed to increasing the number of wheelchairs at this store to add to those already available and we are continuing to look at ways to ensure disabled customers can have a positive shopping experience at our Swindon Haydon store.’’