A blind woman was left 'humiliated' after being denied entry into a bakery because she had her guide dog with her.

Diane Stephen said she was told to stay outside Wenzel's The Bakers in Ickenham because 'dogs are dirty'.

The company, which runs 29 bakeries across north-west London, has since apologised, saying the manager acted against its policy and has been 'severely dealt with'.

Mrs Stephen, 53, of Burnham Avenue, Ickenham, had popped to the bakery in Swakeleys Road for a sandwich on Tuesday (November 4).           

But she was shocked to hear the manager say she could not enter because she was with her two-year-old Labrador Retriever, Goldie.

Mrs Stephen said: “I just got over the step to get in and the manageress said 'no' and stopped me and said I couldn't go in. Her reason was 'dogs are dirty'. I tried to explain to her it's a guide dog, she's perfectly clean, but she wasn't listening.

“I'm a northerner, so nothing ever gets me down, but she treated me as something she scraped off her foot. I felt so humiliated.”

Diane Stephen, 53, of Burnham Avenue, Ickenham, with her guide dog Goldie, two

A young woman came to Mrs Stephen's aid by confronting the shop manager while an older lady looked after her.

Mrs Stephen said: "One of them, she said, 'No, you're not allowed to stop her coming in,' and she went face-to-face with this manager. I was so grateful because I couldn't get out, I was so upset. If I was on my own I would have just shouted but she really backed me up."

The Pinner-based business apologised to Mrs Stephen immediately and has since issued a statement saying the manager at its Ickenham bakery acted against company rules.

General manager Sarah Wenzel said: “Wenzel’s has been in business for over 30 years and has always had a strict policy of allowing guide dogs into our shops. This particular, isolated case, which occurred in Ickenham, was due to the manager not following company policy. She took it upon herself not to allow the dog in the shop.

“The manager concerned has been severely dealt with. She is most upset about the whole situation and would like to apologise to Mrs Stephen personally.

"The company has offered to donate £100 to her chosen charity as compensation for the distress caused."

Credit: Google Maps - Street View The Wenzel's bakery in Swakeleys Road, Ickenham
 

Mother-of-two Mrs Stephen lost her sight after giving birth to her son James, now aged 23. She suffered complications during pregnancy and one of her retinas detached during the birth.

The former nurse, who worked at Hillingdon Hospital for two years until losing her sight in 1992, had laser eye surgery afterwards, but two years later had to have one of her eyes removed, leaving her only able to make out shadowy shapes.

She said she had been denied entry to other shops in Uxbridge, unconnected to Wenzel's, more than once in the past, but generally did not experience any discrimination.

She said: "A lot of people avoid me because I've got the dog anyway, but I wouldn't say there was any more discrimination. I get a lot of cars on the roads don't bother stopping or back into me."

She said she accepted Wenzel's' apology and would continue buying the company's products, but not at the Ickenham branch.

She added: “I would have thought they would have trained people about assistant dogs."