Wedding couple left high and dry for Portsmouth reception after mystery disappearance of bar manager

CUSTOMERS have been left '˜heartbroken' and '˜gutted' after the venue they secured for their events has been unexpectedly shut.

Friday, 20th April 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 20th April 2018, 10:36 am
Sean Restall and his fiance Emily Woolger. Picture by Malcolm Wells (180418-1457)

Nelsons Bar and Restaurant, inside Southsea Leisure Park, Eastney, is now closed.

The person leasing it from the park, Peter Challis, is thought to have left the country and cannot be contacted.

One couple from Buckland who are due to marry in August have been left without a venue for their wedding reception.

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And the organisers of the first-ever Southsea Punkfest have had to cancel the event, after more than 200 tickets were sold for it.

Emily Woolger, 51, booked the venue for her wedding reception in March last year.

She said: ‘We got a phone call from the park last Friday saying the bar can’t do the event because the bloke that runs it has packed-up, turned his phone off, and they think he’s left the country.

‘We’re absolutely broken-hearted, because at the moment we’re not going to have a wedding reception.

‘There are other possibilities but it means paying double or that we’ve got to cut our 200 plus guest list down – which we don’t want to do because we’re having a small wedding.

‘Imagine just how many bookings the bar has – what Pete’s done is disgusting.’

Emily, who works at Ark Aryton Primary Academy in Somers Town, was in regular contact with Peter about the plans for the event.

Her fiancé Sean Restall, 51, said the couple have only lost the £50 deposit they paid for the reception – but were due to hand over £2,000 in June.

Southsea Punkfest was due to take place at the bar next Saturday. Organiser Ken Brown was putting up posters for the event when a passer-by told him it had shut.

The part-time music promoter, who is 57, said: ‘The building is shut and is partly boarded-up.

‘The leisure park told me they hadn’t been able to contact Pete for a couple of weeks and that Nelsons would be shut for the foreseeable future.

‘We were lucky we hadn’t paid Pete any money but we’ve lost about £800 because we had posters made, paid bands deposits to play and booked them hotel rooms.

‘I’m totally gutted for the 200-odd people who paid £25 for tickets and were looking forward to a great day.

‘This act shows a total disregard for others.’

Organisers had secured well-known punk acts for the all-day event like King Kurt.

Customers who bought tickets online were refunded and those who bought tickets in shops are able to go back for a full refund.

Portsmouth’s Dockyard Club will now host ‘Punkfest 2.0’ on April 28, an event which local punk bands will play at. The entry fee is by donation. Southsea Leisure Park would not comment on the incident.