Strangers ensure disabled Stevenage man's long-held dream of clubbing comes true for 21st birthday
PUBLISHED: 08:28 24 January 2020
A young man who lives in residential care due to his severe disabilities had his dream of going clubbing for his 21st birthday realised when a club manager opened her venue especially for him, insisting she wanted nothing in return.
Gus Mangham has global developmental delay and autism and struggles to communicate with others, but he left his family in no doubt that his one big wish was to experience clubbing at The Vault in Stevenage Old Town.
His family contacted the High Street bar and club, and what ensued is truly heart-warming.
Gus' dad, Lee, said: "Gus can't communicate very well and he has a lot of issues. You can understand him if you know him, and for quite a long time he has been saying that he wants to go to The Vault. He wanted to see the lights and hear the music.
"We like to try to do different things with him if we can, so we wondered if they could open it up 10 minutes early one night so he could have a look around."
But when the family contacted The Vault's manager, Cheri Elliott, and she heard Gus' 21st birthday was approaching, she astonished the family by offering to open the club up especially for him on his birthday, so he could celebrate with his family and friends.
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When Gus was told the plan by his dad, he was visibly thrilled - his excitement bubbling over so he was literally jumping for joy.
His family invited some of his teachers from Greenside School in Stevenage, where he was a pupil. Some friends from the Stevenage residential care home where Gus lives also attended the party with staff.
Lee said: "His face when we walked in just lit up - it was amazing. Gus was over the moon with the lights and music, and he was especially excited to see his teachers from his former school.
"I have never seen him walk around a room in such a calm way, smiling. We were there for about an hour-and-a-half, on a day the club doesn't usually open at all. I was over the moon for Gus, and I still can't quite believe it.
"Cheri is a shining example of what equality and inclusion is all about. Nothing was too much trouble for her, or for her colleagues who were also there."
Cheri said: "It's really tough for Gus to be around unfamiliar people, so he wouldn't have been able to come if it had been open to the public.
"Gus enjoyed it so much, and that was enough for me. The excitement on his face was so lovely to see and it was great to be a part of it.
"If you can take a couple hours to do something for somebody, it's worth so much more than money."