Friday, 6 August 2010

Co-Op refuses to serve one of our returning soldiers for being in uniform

Is it any surprise that one of our soldiers returning from Afghanistan has been refused service in the New Addington, Croydon, Co-Op, when you consider the demographics? It is under 60% white. I'll let you guess what half the other 40% is made up of.

Here's the story...

A hero soldier who had just arrived home from a tour of Afghanistan was refused service at a supermarket after being told they didn't serve people in army uniform.

Sapper Anthony Walls, of the 21 Engineer Regiment, popped into the Co-op in Croydon for some beers after a gruelling 34-hour journey from Kandahar.

The 27-year-old, said it was his 'first hour back in the real world' after dodging Taliban bullets for the past four-and-a-half months helping build 'the most dangerous road in Afghanistan'.

But when he arrived at the till to pay he was met with a blank stare from the cashier, who refused to serve him and called for her manager.

When the manager turned up he told him he 'couldn't do anything about it' and refused to serve him while he was in uniform.

The patriotic soldier - who was on his way to his three-year-old nephew Jack's birthday party - simply left his beer at the check-out and walked out of the shop in daze.

He said: 'I was shocked and deeply hurt.

'All I was thinking about was getting home to Jack in time to wish him a happy birthday.

'It was great to be home after a difficult journey and I just thought I'd grab a couple of beers - a luxury I hadn't had in a while.

But when I came to pay the cashier refused to serve me and rang her bell.

'A male supervisor came along and the cashier explained she was refusing to serve me because I was in uniform.

'He looked at me and said "I can't do anything about it".

'I put the beer down and walked out.'

Anthony, who joined up when he was 17, said it was 'tough' in Afghanistan and that he had witnessed the death of one of his best pals, Sapper Daryn Roy, who died at the age of 28 in an IED explosion in May this year.

He added: 'It's really tough out there. Sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is the support and love from home. I appreciate the Co-op cashier may have had her own opinions about the war, but we are just doing a job and laying our lives down for this country. A little respect and appreciation would be nice.'

Anthony's sister Claire Lloyd, 33, said she was 'disgusted' at her brother's treatment at the Co-op store in New Addington, Croydon.

The mother-of-four said: 'I am so proud of Anthony - he works hard and willingly puts his own life on the line every day.

'To come home to this kind of treatment is disgusting.

'I feel he deserves an apology in person from the Co-op. Anthony and his colleagues are the unsung heroes of this country - they deserve the respect and civility extended to anyone else in a uniform.'

A spokesperson for The Co-operative said: 'This was a genuine mistake on the part of our two members of staff, and has nothing to do with anyone’s ethnicity, religion or personal views (pull the other one). We have apologised to the soldier in question and hope to welcome him back to the store.

'We do not have a policy that states that when wearing uniform, members of the armed forces should not be served alcohol or cigarettes and are all welcome in our stores.'

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