‘Our needs have been cast aside’: Disabled veterans left furious after hotel close to ceremonies for 40th Falklands anniversary cancels their bookings to house asylum seekers
Disabled Falklands veterans are furious after a hotel cancelled their bookings for this summer’s anniversary events to make room for migrants.
Scores of former Parachute Regiment soldiers chose the venue in Aldershot, Hampshire, for its proximity to ceremonies taking place on Saturday, June 18 to mark the conflict’s 40th anniversary.
The now-elderly war heroes fought to recapture the South Atlantic islands in 1982, a mission which cost 255 British troops’ lives.
Some of the veterans cannot walk and require carers to accompany them. But their bookings were cancelled after owners of the Potters Hotel agreed to accommodate asylum seekers.
More than 28,000 people have crossed the English Channel to reach Britain in the last year.
The number who made the crossing in 2021 was treble that of 2020, while in the last fortnight 773 have reached the UK by boat. With the Home Office’s residential centres overflowing, it has resorted to placing migrants in hotels.
Furious: Veteran David Brown (pictured)
David ‘Charlie’ Brown, 60, told the Daily Mail he booked a disabled twin room for him and his carer on the ground floor.
He has to take liquid morphine every day and can barely walk across the road or stand up for more than five minutes.
Forty years ago he fought with the Parachute Regiment’s second battalion (2 Para) at Goose Green, one of the major battles of the South Atlantic campaign. Eighteen British troops were killed and more than 60 wounded on the night of May 28, 1982 when the heavily outnumbered Paras defied the odds to capture key Argentine strongholds.
The battle is also famous for the posthumous Victoria Cross won by 2 Para commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones, who was killed leading an attack up a steep hillside.
Retired Mr Brown, from Thornton, West Yorkshire, said he was furious when he was told his room had been taken by migrants and his booking cancelled, and worried he would not find another hotel close enough to the ceremonies.
Serving: Private Brown in 1982
He added: ‘I’m disgusted. I booked the room last year as soon as it became available because of my specific requirements.
‘There are more than 1,000 ex-Paras due to attend the events in Aldershot in June, so all the other hotels are booked up.
‘I’m furious because the needs of elderly and infirm former soldiers have just been cast aside, in spite of the significance of the events.
‘Aldershot is the regiment’s spiritual home. I don’t know how I will be able to go because I can barely walk and standing up is agony.’
Hotel company chief executive Bob Potter confirmed that the Paras’ bookings had been cancelled. He added he had been forced to reach an agreement with Whitehall to accommodate asylum seekers or the hotel would have closed because of a lack of guests.
He said: ‘We were not taking enough bookings to make it a viable option to keep it open.
‘We were approached to lease the hotel for the Home Office as we had to look at alternative revenue streams.
‘We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience caused to those who had booked with us.’
Potters have offered the Falklands veterans rooms in another hotel owned by the same company in Camberley, Surrey, around seven miles away from Aldershot.
Pictured: The Potters Hotel in Aldershot, Surrey