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Romford pub refuses to serve heroes

PUBLISHED: 09:38 09 November 2012 | UPDATED: 09:38 09 November 2012

1st Battallion Royal Anglian Regiment parade through Romford town centre. Picture: Paul Bennett

1st Battallion Royal Anglian Regiment parade through Romford town centre. Picture: Paul Bennett

Archant

»A parade in Romford town centre to welcome home from Afghanistan the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment turned sour for some of the men and their proud families when a pub refused to serve them.

Staff at The Bull pub in Romford Marketplace told groups of the soldiers, thirsty after the march through Romford on Tuesday in front of thousands of cheering well-wishers and VIPs, that they were “not allowed to serve squaddies”.

The parade, during Remembrance week, was part of celebrations for the batallion being given the Freedom of the Borough.

Ashamed

Denise Coe, whose son is part of the regiment said: “I think it was absolutely disgusting and they should all be ashamed. What is the point of them having the Freedom of the Borough when the soldiers can’t even go to get a drink in a pub in the town?

A spokesman for The Bull has since apologised, saying the soldiers should have been served.

The battalion, which has had 16 of its men killed in Afghanistan, was taking part in the parade in Romford to mark the end of its final tour of the country.

The parade had started in South Street, passing the pub.

Christine Clark, 70 from Collier Row was with her grandson, who is in the regiment, and five of his friends who had also taken part in the parade.

She said: “There were about 15 soldiers just standing outside the bar and they told us that they wouldn’t serve them. When we went in they told my grandson and his friends that they ‘are not allowed to serve squaddies’.

When my daughter asked if she could buy the drink for them they told her that “they are not allowed in’”. She added: “I felt so embarrased.

“Romford is my grandson’s hometown and he wanted to take his friends to the pub to get a drink and they wouldn’t even serve them.”

Other family members were also upset that their view was blocked.

The parade was due to start at 12.30pm and many of the soldiers’ family and friends had gathered early to get a good view of the troops.

But they said that just 10 minutes before the start of the parade, Havering Council’s VIP guests were directed in front of them, totally blocking their view of the parade.

Sheila Munroe had travelled from Southend to Romford, to support her son and the rest of the regiment. Her 88-year-old mum Ellen Fowell from Barking also went with her to cheer on the troops.

Sheila said: “My mum is in a wheelchair so we got there early just so we could get a good spot, it was terrible when these VIPs just came and stood in front of us. She could hardly see anything and all they seemed to be doing was standing and laughing as the parade went on.”

She added: “I was disgusted with the whole thing. The day before we were in Ipswich and we were treated with so much respect. We were expecting the same treatment in Romford but we just didn’t get it.”

In 2010, Havering Council awarded the freedom of the Borough to the Royal Anglian Regiment and the parade was supposed to be a celebration of the honour and to mark the end of their final tour in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for The Bull pub confirmed that the soldiers were denied entry into the pub.

He said: “This was a mistake. We absolutely welcome the armed forces into The Bull and we apologise for any offence caused to the soldiers. We are talking to the team members involved and clarifying we welcome the armed forces into the pub.”

A spokesman for Havering Council apologised to the family of the soldiers. He said:“We are very sorry if anyone’s view was blocked. We discussed the set up with the Royal Anglian regiment including where to place the VIP’s. There were thousands of people in Romford to cheer the soldiers home and it was a great day to show our town’s pride in the work that they do.”

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