Ex-comrade of Harry offers veterans free Christmas dinner at Northumberland pub


A pub landlord who served with Prince Harry in Afghanistan is offering veterans a free Christmas dinner so they do not spend the day alone.

Brian Erskine and his brother Robert are opening up their Northumberland pub, The Blyth and Tyne, to former servicemen and women on Christmas Day. They appealed online for veterans who would otherwise be by themselves to get in touch.

The pair came up with the idea last December after they cooked Christmas dinner for some pub regulars who had nowhere to go.

Brian Erskine, 33, said: "It's something close to my heart, as I am an ex-soldier.

"We have family around us, but not everybody has that. As ex-forces, we should be sat around as a family and made to feel wanted on the day.

"No-one should spend Christmas alone after serving this country."

Mr Erskine served in the Life Guards Household Cavalry and completed two tours in Bosnia, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan between 2000 and 2010.

The pub landlord served with Harry in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008, and credited the Prince's loyalty to veterans as inspiration for his idea. 

He said: "We worked hand in hand together - he was one of the boys but when it was time he knew how to be an officer. He is just outstanding.

"He is out there standing up for those who fought for the country. I see what he is doing and I feel I need to do more for them, so I'm doing what I can in my own way."

Mr Erskine's mother and stepfather will be in charge of the cooking while the brothers chat with their guests in the pub, which offers a year-round 10% discount to current and ex-servicemen and women. 

The idea has proved a hit with the public, and Mr Erskine has already been contacted by a pub owner in Surrey who wants to copy it. 

Mr Erskine said he had received lots of offers of help - including two £100 donations - but was concerned that veterans might not feel they could just turn up.  

He said: "I think that people who have served can be too proud to ask for something - they don't want to step forward. But I am trying my best to break down that wall. 

"If this helps more ex/serving forces have somewhere to be on Christmas Day I am happy.

He urged veterans to take up his offer saying: "There are many people in your position. Spend Christmas with ex-forces people and feel at home.

"It's my home and it's open to you as yours."