A SMALL family-run coach firm at the shrine of Our Lady in Lourdes has been blacklisted by big local firms because it is carrying handicapped and ablebodied pilgrims together in a specially adapted coach.
The Lasbareilles coach company, which carries pilgrims from Lourdes airport to the shrine itself and into the surrounding countryside, recently invested in a f160,000 coach which had been adapted to include a hydraulic lift for wheelchairs and removable seats.
But the firm's English manager, Nigel Fawcett, told the Catholic Herald this week that he was being "blacklisted" by local French firms who are worried the new coach is attracting their business. "One company turned round and told my tour agent that they wouldn't carry any of his clients if he used me," Mr Fawcett said.
Fr Michael Garvey, a development worker for the disabled with Westminster Social and Pastoral Action, described the blacklisting as "absolutely outrageous".
He said: "They don't make proper provision themselves, and now they're frightened that someone else is doing it properly."
But British pilgrimage organisations have pledged to back the new Lasbareilles coach: "I welcome Nigel Fawcett's coach, and we will certainly use it," said Pat Porter of the
Handicapped Childrens' Pilgrimage Trust.