A HAMPSHIRE hotel has today agreed to refund a deposit for a golden wedding anniversary to a local army veteran who cancelled the event after his wife died.

Eric Clifton, 78, of Swanmore, had paid an initial deposit of £160 with a further payment of £535 to the Lysses House Hotel in Fareham for the golden wedding anniversary of his marriage to Joyce.

Eight weeks before the event, Mrs Clifton, 72, died from cancer and he was initially furious after the hotel said it would not give him a refund.

But hotel manager Colin Mercer reversed that decision after meeting Mr Clifton today, refunding his deposit and agreeing to make a donation to a charity of his choice.

Mr Clifton said: “We have reached an amicable solution and I'm very pleased to be able to say that. After the meeting I even stopped there for some lunch which Mr Mercer kindly paid for and I'm happy to go back to the hotel in the future.”

The former warrant officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who has two children and five grandchildren, added: “Mr Mercer also promised to make a donation to Myeloma UK, which was my nominated charity because it was the cancer my wife suffered from.”

Mr Mercer said the hotel was unaware of the reason for the cancellation for months and recognised a refund was appropriate in the exceptional circumstances.

He said: “We have the same policy as everybody else that you pay so much before an event and when we get a cancellation we follow procedure. We didn't enquire as to why Mr Clifton cancelled because I don't like staff enquiring about that as it is not up to us to find that out.

“Five months after the cancellation we had a news reporter approach us and my front-of-house manager Nicky said we had not heard about the reason and we had a policy. We had absolutely no contact from Mr Clifton so it hit us out of the blue.“But this is clearly an exception case and when I came in this morning I immediately made efforts to contact Mr Clifton and he agreed to come in for a chat and we have reached a solution.”

He added: “My staff have been extremely upset about this. They are all 'people' people and it was they who suggested making the donation.”