An Eastleigh publican has described online rumours that he won’t serve military veterans as “nonsense”.
Chas Stone, the owner of Stones, was responding to social media messages that were posted following an incident on Friday night – the day of the D-day commemorations- when a group of ex-servicemen were turned away from the popular High Street bar.
Earlier that day veterans of the Queens Royal Irish Hussars had been among 400 mourners at the funeral of a former comrade.
Some of the mourners had travelled to Eastleigh from as far away as Northern Ireland for the service and were staying in local hotels.
After a wake at the Masonic Hall, a group of around ten ex-hussars, some with their wives, decided to have a nightcap in the town centre but did not get past the door of Stones.
Speaking to Eastleigh News earlier, one the group said they were surprised to be have been stopped, as they were well behaved and smartly dressed with shirts and regimental ties.
Terry Harborne admitted they’d “had a few beers” but denied that anyone was drunk.
“We were not a noisy group.
There was no shouting or swearing.
We are all in our 40s and 50s and are too old to cause trouble”.
But landlord Chas Stone said that he thought two of the group had consumed “too much to drink”.
The veterans insisted that was not so and that one of the men who was singled out had not been drinking at all as he was driving home.
Another remonstrated and pointed out his medals but the landlord was unmoved.
As they walked away Mr Harborne said he heard one of the men at the door say “I don’t like veterans”.
Chas Stone explained to Eastleigh News that the rest of the group had been “welcome” to enter but as the licensee, his professional judgement was that two of the party should be excluded.
“I have the right to refuse entry to people I feel are the worse for wear and I did that.
I’m sorry that I had to exclude ex-servicemen”.
He stressed that the other ex-servicemen would have been admitted and strongly denied he was anti-veteran or in any way against service personnel.
He told Eastleigh News that his father had fought in Africa during WW2, that he himself served in the TA and that his daughter was currently serving in the RAF.
The landlord revealed that the pub would shortly be donating over £1,500 to Help for Heroes, the disabled serviceman’s charity – money that had been raised in the pub thorugh various activities like the sale of wrist bands.
Stone also told Eastleigh News that as a member of Eastleigh Pub Watch he had first encouraged town venues to accept military ID cards as proof of age.
“We fully support the military and are proud to have members of the family in the forces.”
He also denied he had said “I don’t like veterans”.
“If I heard someone say that they would be out on their ear.
That’s not the stance at this pub, or of our family, customers or our friends”.
Mr Stone said that some of the messages posted on social media by some people not even connected to the ex-servicemen had been ‘vile’ and they had to put a block on their Facebook page.
“I’m really disappointed considering how much support we give the forces.
My daughter is in the RAF why on earth would I say ‘veterans aren’t welcome here’?
What a load of nonsense.
Why wouldn’t they be welcome?”
Mr Harborne said that members of his party had been “shocked” by the incident and “annoyed” to have been turned away.
“We didn’t expect it and it soured the end of a good day.
A lot of people have said they will never come back here again”.