Couple fired by brewery for serving free drinks on Remembrance Sunday
Couple hit back after being fired by brewery for breaching Covid rules by serving free pub drinks to people on Remembrance Sunday
- Nigel Cookson, 55, and Jo Cashon, 45, served free drinks in North Yorkshire pubs
- Said it was a ‘gesture of goodwill’ toast the fallen on Remembrance Sunday
- They were stripped of their pub licence by police but later had it handed back
A couple who served free drinks to toast the fallen on Remembrance Sunday have now been fired by the brewery and face being kicked out of their home on New Year’s Day for breaking covid rules.
Nigel Cookson, 55, and Jo Cashon, 45, claimed their covid breaching was a ‘gesture of goodwill’ to those paying respects at village memorial next door.
The couple, who run The Grey Horse in Elvington, North Yorkshire, were initially stripped of their pub licence by police but the force later relented and handed it back.
But on Monday, Punch Pubs ordered them to hand the keys to the pub in by next Monday and leave the tied accommodation by January 1.
Nigel Cookson, 55, and Jo Cashon, 45, have been fired by a brewery that owns their pub, The Grey Horse, and face being kicked out of their home after they served free drinks to toast the fallen on Remembrance Sunday
Jo said: ‘Our world has fallen apart. It is a nightmare. For all times for this to happen, it would be Christmas.’
Remembrance Sunday is especially poignant in Elvington because the village was one home to Allied bomber crews of several nations from the nearby airstrip.
She added: ‘Remembrance Sunday is a massive, massive thing in this village with the French air force veterans normally coming over.
‘This the first year they have not come. The Free French memorial is just down the road. We were just trying to lighten the mood due to covid and it has backfired.’
They had hoped the row had blown over but she said their bosses had been left with little choice after police refused to let the matter drop.
She claimed: ‘Punch have done it because the police licensing officer said she would take Punch to court to review their license.
‘So Punch have been under pressure and rather than go to court they have done this. It is wonderful time to do it – at Xmas.
Nigel and Jo say they simply left glasses and some of their own wine and whisky out on benches outside the pub as a gesture to the villagers who may want to toast the memory of those who died. They accept it was a mistake to hand out free alcohol
‘We have found somewhere to move to but it is only our old house in Selby which is not in the best state of repair but it’s a roof and better than being on the street.
‘The villagers have got quite involved and starting to write letters and email punch. It is a nightmare.
‘The police have not explained why they have done it. We understood it had been suspended pending investigation. But we have asked to leave now.
‘People are trying to get Punch to change their minds but that would be a small miracle. Our whole world as fallen apart.
Nigel Cookson said: ‘I am shocked. I think they have gone miles overboard. I think it is ridiculous what they are doing. I am a bit disappointed Punch have just collapsed.
‘I would be interested to know if the whole thing is now dropped. As far as I am concerned it is not over till the fat lady sings. But it is not looking good.
‘We feel our case is being dealt with far more harshly than others.
‘For instance, we know of another pub in Harrogate – also under the control of the police licensing division – were issued with two warnings over Covid rules.
‘They were then prosecuted as per the police statement ‘only as a last resort’, unlike the ‘one strike and you’re out’ applied to ourselves.’
Police were called on November 10 after complaints that people were drinking and smoking on the premises.
Nigel and Jo say they simply left glasses and some of their own wine and whisky out on benches outside the pub as a gesture to the villagers who may want to toast the memory of those who died.
They accept it was a mistake to hand out free alcohol – even if it was their own and not pub stock – but say losing their home and jobs is too harsh punishment.
They said in a joint statement: ‘You are all entitled to your opinions about how you feel we acted.
‘All we can offer in support of our actions is our remorse, we have openly admitted in hindsight we shouldn’t have done what we did, even if it was in good faith.
‘However, we still steadfastly don’t believe that our actions should be treated so severely under North Yorkshire Police’s ‘last resort’ system, to the extent that we should lose our home and our livelihood.’
North Yorkshire Police and Punch have been contacted for comment.
The force said at the time: ‘There was a report of a gathering in the beer garden and smoking area of a licensed premises with people consuming alcohol from wine and beer glasses.
‘The attending officers established that the group were from different households, they were not socially distanced and none of them were wearing face masks or face coverings to mitigate the risk of infection from coronavirus.
‘Those present left the licensed premises without any further action being taken after the officers engaged with them, explained the current restrictions and encouraged them to leave.
‘However, due to the circumstances of the incident, a person in control of the premises was issued with a Penalty Notice for Covid-19 for breaching the regulations. This has now been cancelled.’
Punch Pubs have been contacted for comment.
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