Licensee who served in army with Prince Harry offers free Christmas dinner to lonely veterans

By Emily Sutherland

- Last updated on GMT

Having served in the armed forces, Brian Erskine wants to give lonely veterans a merry Christmas
Having served in the armed forces, Brian Erskine wants to give lonely veterans a merry Christmas

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A Northumberland licensee and veteran who served with Prince Harry in Afghanistan will give out free Christmas dinners to current and ex-service men and women who might otherwise spend Christmas Day alone.

Brian Erskine who runs the Blyth and Tyne pub in Blyth posted on Facebook saying he would open up the pub to veterans with no plans for Christmas Day, which has since been shared over 5,000 times.

So far, 35 service men and women have said they plan to attend the Blyth and Tyne’s event and a local army reserve centre has offered a chef and kitchen staff to help out.

Speaking to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​, Erskine said: “It’s something that started last year, when there were few ex-servicemen at the pub with nowhere to go and we asked them to join us for a drink and some food. This year, we decided to post the advertisement and it’s just blown up.

“Nobody should have to spend Christmas day by themselves, especially people who have put their life on the line for their country. It happens quite a lot- service men and women leave the army and can’t cope with life on civilian street and their relationships break down, leaving them by themselves. I’ve been messaged by people I haven’t spoken to since leaving the army expressing their support.”

Erskine, who runs the Trust Inns lease with his brother, entered the pub trade after leaving the army and finding it difficult to get a job because many employers didn’t recognise his qualifications.

He added: “I’ve really enjoy working in the pub industry-it’s not always rosy but I’ve met lots of new people and have a good social life now.”

Local taxi firm Central Taxis has got on board and offered to drive anyone attending the Christmas dinner to the pub for free and members of the public have also offered to put money behind the bar.

Erskine isn’t the only one getting into the Christmas spirit as licensees around the country help those less fortunate than themselves.

Leicester licensee David Bakewell,​ who runs the Bridle Lane Tavern, opened his doors to 300 homeless people last week as well as offering coats, socks, jumpers and jeans to those in need. 

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