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Community rallies round widower in hotel deposit row

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AN ARMY veteran has been bowled over by people raising hundreds of pounds for him after The News revealed a hotel refused to refund him for a party when his wife died.

As reported, Eric Clifton had booked Lysses House Hotel in Fareham for a golden wedding anniversary celebration with wife Joyce, 72.

But Joyce died eight weeks before the event on July 29 last year – and after the pair had paid a £160 deposit and £535.

Multiple campaigns were launched online on Thursday to get Mr Clifton the deposit back after the story appeared in The News. Businesses in Fareham and Gosport have donated hundreds of pounds.

Speaking to The News, Mr Clifton, 78, of Swanmore, said: ‘It’s great that they are doing it.

‘I hope it makes the management of the hotel industry have a rethink.’

And the owner Colin Mercer bowed to pressure and agreed to pay back the cash to Mr Clifton when the pair met at the hotel yesterday afternoon.

Mr Clifton added: ‘He’s apologised for what’s happened and we’ve had a nice discussion.

‘He’s reimbursed me my out-of-pocket expenses.

‘The hotel is going to make a donation to a charity.

‘I suggested Myeloma UK, because it was myeloma that killed my wife. My anger is mitigated somewhat.’

Danny Stevens and his wife Shelley, of Gosport, run Eclipse Tattoo Studio, in Redlands Lane, Fareham.

The pair and supporters have raised around £500 for Mr Clifton, which will now also go to charity.

Danny said: ‘All we’re trying to do is get £700.

‘We saw the post on Facebook and both Shelley and myself were so disgusted by it we just thought, on a very intimate level, that we’ll try and raise some money to help him get his money back.

‘We then put a post up on Facebook asking our clients – we put £100 in the pot to get things started.’

Gosport phone firm Aerial Direct has made a donation of £150 to Myeloma UK.

Veterans groups and others have voiced support to Mr Clifton online.

Mr Mercer said his staff had received abusive calls.

He said: ‘Eric’s very happy, and we’re very happy now.

‘He’s said he’ll be coming back to visit us. We’ve agreed to refund things. We’re people, we’re not hard-nosed business people, we care.’

Mr Clifton now hopes to join the Swanmore Society for dinner at the hotel.

 

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