Bitter at early finish for Welwyn Hatfield soldier’s fundraiser

ORGANISERS of a benefit night, in honour of a soldier who survived a massive bomb blast in Afghanistan, have criticised the venue’s owners, after the event was cut short.

The charity fundraiser, at the function room in The Harrier pub, in Bishops Rise, Hatfield, was halted at 11pm despite the organiser being assured it would be open until 12.30am.

But the night, in honour of Welwyn Hatfield soldier LCpl William Reeks, who survived being blown up on duty in war-torn Afghanistan, was still hailed a great success raising almost �5,000 for charity.

LCpl Reeks’ cousin Arash Nakhjavan, who organised the night, was less than happy with pub owner McMullen over its staging of the event.

He said staff at the pub did not want to open the separate function room’s bar for the 200 guests, until protests forced them to do so, and then it only served bottled beers and spirits.

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He added: “They shut the bar early at 11pm and I had people turning up at 11.30pm wanting to pay to come in, so we could have raised a lot more money for charity.

“They didn’t tell me until two hours before [that the bar would close at 11pm].”

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The event was to raise money for Scotty’s Little Soldiers – a charity which supports the children of men and women killed in action, while serving with the British Armed Forces.

And Mr Nakhjavan said that despite pulling in a profit over the bar the Hertford-based brewery did not make a donation to the charity, although it did offer use of the function room for free.

A spokesman for McMullen said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist the organisers of this event by providing the free use of the function room and by enabling them to retain the door proceeds.”

He added: “Clearly I am disappointed to hear of this criticism, some two weeks later and particularly through the press, as the organisers appeared pleased with our support at the time.’’

Despite the row �2,825 was raised, and thanks to the Welwyn Hatfield Times’ previous coverage a further single donation of �2,000 was made.

The cash was given by Singapore firm ST Kinetics, which manufactures the armoured Warthog vehicle credited with saving LCpl Reeks’ life.

Our story about LCpl Reeks’ miracle survival reached the company and made waves in Singapore’s national press.

A representative of the firm, Phillip Ou, flew in from Singapore to attend the event and hand over cheques from his firm and from the event itself.

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