Restaurant owner 'too fat for the army'

FLAMBOYANT restaurant owner Ugur Vata always knew he was larger than life - and now he has the perfect excuse!It's keeping him out of the army.Mr Vata - who owns the Galley restaurants in Ipswich and Woodbridge - has joint British and Turkish nationality.

FLAMBOYANT restaurant owner Ugur Vata always knew he was larger than life - and now he has the perfect excuse!

It's keeping him out of the army.

Mr Vata - who owns the Galley restaurants in Ipswich and Woodbridge - has joint British and Turkish nationality.

He arrived in Britain 22 years ago and took out citizenship three years later.

But he retains his Turkish citizenship - and that means he was eligible to be called up for military service.

The 42-year-old managed to put off the call-up while he was studying in Britain and then while he was establishing his business.

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Once he got to 38, however, it became difficult to put off his army service any longer.

Mr Vata explained: “Every male Turkish citizen has to do 15 months service in the army. But if you have joint citizenship and live in another country you could pay £3,500 and do just 28 days in a boot camp.

“That's what I was going to do. They then put it up to £5,500 so I had to take more out of the bank to do that and went over to Turkey to sign up last month.”

There were the normal medical formalities to go through - and he was disappointed to find that a hernia operation he had earlier in the year meant he could only be a private, not a commander.

“I told them my son would be disappointed about that - but they didn't laugh.

“Then I went to see another doctor who told me I was too heavy for my height. I was not eligible for military service. I've got to go back next year and they will see if I've lost any weight by then.

“If I'm still the same weight or any heavier they'll send me back again.”

Mr Vata said it was important to do the military service because otherwise he could be arrested and forced to complete 15 months in the army if he set foot in the country - and he regularly visits his parents and sister who still live in Turkey.

“Britain is my home. I am British and my family is British. I don't want to live anywhere else - but I want to be able to visit my family,” he explained.

His desire to emphasise how British he is means that his children - son George and daughter Poppy - only have British citizenship.

“George could have been in the same position as me in a few years' time but he only has British citizenship so he will be fine.

“Many families in a position like this do give their children joint citizenship - we decided not to,” he said.

He remains technically eligible for the call-up until he is 45 - but he's been told that if he is too big when he tries to sign on next year, that should be the end of the matter.

And he could get his money back!

He said: “I'm certainly not going to change to try to get slim for them. My size is part of who I am - you should never trust a thin restaurant owner!”

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