Pub landlord at The Bristol Arms in Shotley cancelled family celebrations to save Christmas for four special guests

Inez Woollard and her son Paul Woollard had their Christmas meal at the Bristol Arms in Shotley.

Inez Woollard and her son Paul Woollard had their Christmas meal at the Bristol Arms in Shotley. - Credit: Su Anderson

A Suffolk family has expressed their extreme gratitude to a pub landlord who ‘save their Christmas’ after putting on a six-course lunch just for them.

The Bristol Arms honoured a Christmas Day food booking error and put on a six course meal for a fami

The Bristol Arms honoured a Christmas Day food booking error and put on a six course meal for a family of four, including a family member from Australia. Pictured is chef Shane Rolin. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Paul Woollard, along with his 92-year-old mother Inez Woollard and his aunt and uncle Barry and Mary Skoulding, all of Ipswich, faced a Christmas Day with no festive lunch after an error with a booking at The Bristol Arms, Shotley.

The pub, on Bristol Hill, was due only to open for a toast with regulars at 12noon. The family could not be contacted due to an error with the phone number, and, not wanting to see anyone left disappointed on Christmas Day, pub manager and chef Shane Rolin put his own plans on hold to provide a six-course meal for his four customers.

He said: “Not wanting to ruin someone’s Christmas, we went through every person with that surname [in the phonebook] in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk and asked every one of them if they knew who it could be. We moved heaven and earth, phoning as many people as we could think of.

“Right up to the day we didn’t know if it was a prank. We had no idea if anybody was going to turn up or not.

“I couldn’t take the risk of having nothing available. I just couldn’t bear the thought of someone turning up on Christmas Day having no Christmas dinner, that was a horrible thought for me.

“I cancelled my own family Christmas and decided that if they turned up they would be looked after.

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“It wasn’t for any other reason other than I didn’t want it to ruin their Christmas.

“I’m just glad that they are happy, that really is the most important thing.”

The family’s private meal comprised breads and canapes, soup, smoked salmon and crayfish, roast turkey with all the trimmings, a whole Christmas pudding and a selection of cheeses.

Mr Woollard said: “We were provided with an excellent meal, cooked and provided just for us.

“It was an outstanding example of customer service...unbelievable. It was surreal, we were the only four people in the pub apart from the staff.

“It really gave us a good Christmas feeling, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

“Shane was great. He was polite and cheerful, a credit to that establishment.

“My uncle had been there in the summer and said they were good, and he also knows that I love anything to do with the Suffolk coastline. The view of the harbour and having Christmas lunch, it was just a perfect celebration.”