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Marcus Leon cancelled event for up to 100 disadvantaged children

By Emily Roberts

10:05am Friday 22nd November 2013

Charity for autistic children left out of pocket after organiser of roller disco let them down

Charity for autistic children left out of pocket after organiser of roller disco let them down

A BASINGSTOKE charity is £145 out of pocket after the organiser of a roller disco took its money but let down the group of autistic children.

Marcus Leon also cancelled an event for up to 100 disadvantaged children at the last minute after promising them a free roller disco last Saturday.

Members of the National Autistic Society branch in Basingstoke paid a cheque to Mr Leon around six weeks ago to run a roller disco at Oakridge Hall for All on November 23.

But when the branch officers saw The Gazette’s article about 32-year-old Mr Leon, right, being allegedly responsible for the cancellation of another roller disco at Popley Spotlight Centre, they were concerned as to whether their event would go ahead.

Gemma Parker, deputy branch officer for NAS Basingstoke, tried to contact Mr Leon – but found that the mobile number she had for him had been disconnected. She then contacted the hall – only to be told that a booking had never been made.

The 29-year-old eventually managed to get hold of Mr Leon, from Brighton Hill, through Facebook, and he claimed to have booked the Popley Spotlight Centre. But when Mrs Parker checked with Spotlight, she was told there was no booking there.

Samantha Clark, branch officer for the Basingstoke NAS, said: “Had the story about the other roller disco not been in The Gazette, we would have turned up on the 23rd and had no idea that something might have gone wrong.”

The 35-year-old mother-of-two added: “It really upset us – £145 is massive to us.”

She said Mr Leon told NAS that he would have to earn the money before he could return it, but promised to pay it back by Tuesday.

However, yesterday the charity had still not received the refund, and its members are questioning why Mr Leon does not have the money when the event has not taken place.

Mrs Parker said: “There was no apology or attempt to work this out.”

Mrs Clark added: “All I’m interested in is the charity’s money and the children. Why didn’t he contact us when he knew it had fallen through, and apologise?”

She said many of the children were upset when they were told the event had to be cancelled.

She added: “If it was my money, I would probably let it go, but it’s not – it’s a charity’s money. For someone to be so flippant, like it doesn’t matter, is devastating.”

Michaela Riley, who runs the Popley Spotlight Centre, told The Gazette that Mr Leon had also let her down, after promising to run a free roller disco for 100 children to make up for cancelling the previous event.

As reported in The Gazette on November 7, Mr Leon told The Gazette he would refund anyone who had bought a ticket for that event.

Mrs Riley said: “This rearranged free event was for kids with terminal illnesses, or who have lost parents. I was talking to him on Facebook last Friday. I trusted him and I feel a bit gutted.”

She added: “I said ‘if you are not going to do it, let me know, because I don’t want to let the kids down.’ They don’t deserve that – they have been through enough. He said it was all going to go ahead.”

But at around 1pm on November 15, Mrs Riley said she received a message to say Mr Leon could no longer run the event, giving her just 24 hours to let everyone know.

The Gazette contacted Mr Leon through Facebook and spoke to him on the phone earlier this week, but he declined to comment.

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