Family 'told to leave panto' because they brought along their six-week-old baby

A family was left feeling ‘mortified’ after they were mistakenly ordered to leave a panto performance.

John Goddard, 35 had purchased a £50 voucher for his wife as a Valentine’s Day gift last year.

As it was about to expire, they decided to use it for tickets to a matinee performance of Mother Goose at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

They brought their young daughter and six-week-old baby to enjoy the show.

John said the family was waved through the ticket check and passed ‘multiple’ members of staff without an issue.

It wasn’t until the they sat down, ten minutes before the show was due to begin, that staff told them they had to leave.

John, from Merseyside, told the Liverpool Echo: ‘We were really looking forward to this, my wife had a really tough labour and recovery and I thought this would be a really lovely treat for her.

‘We really looked into booking the tickets and checked the terms and conditions to make sure we could take our baby along.

What are the rules for babies at shows?

The Liverpool Empire Theatre is run by Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG.)

The conditions on the company’s website states: ‘Babes in arms (children under 18 months) shall be admitted free of charge to those events they may attend (children’s shows and Pantomimes only)’.

‘We arranged for our two-and-a-half year old to be looked after by my parents and I even booked a day off work. There were no problems with the staff that checked our tickets, and we passed multiple people and patrons on our way in – people were even cooing over the baby.

‘We found our seats and I went to buy us some chocolate, drinks and a programme, but the second I sat back in my seat we were told no babies were allowed in the auditorium and we had to leave.’

Security were called and the family were taken into the foyer.

John added: ‘By this point my wife was mortified and in tears. Everyone was staring, whispering to each other and we were made to feel like we were the reason everybody else was not watching the show.

‘The baby was asleep in my wife’s sling and we even booked an aisle seat so if the baby did cry or need changing, we could leave if we needed to.

‘When we went into the foyer they closed the doors and my heart sank because I knew we were not getting back in. I understand the staff had a job to do and were just following the party line, they were fine, but at times rude.’

The family were given a refund and are looking to file an official complaint.

The venue has now admitted staff should not have removed the family.

Diane Belding, theatre director, said on Thursday: ‘I was made aware that a member of our audience was asked to leave ahead of yesterday’s matinee performance of Mother Goose. ATG’s policy regarding babes in arms is that infants under 18 months are not permitted.

‘An exception is made for children’s shows and pantomimes. Although Mother Goose is a pantomime, there is a recommended age guidance of 3yrs+, which caused some confusion with staff.

‘On this occasion, we got it wrong and I am very sorry that Mr Goddard was asked to leave. We have taken steps to ensure the mistake will not be repeated and I am reaching out to Mr and Mrs Goddard personally to invite them back to the Empire as guests of the venue.’

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