Apex left standing by old soldier’s anthem attack

Doug Spelling in his Royal Signal Corps blazer and tie.met Sarah Stamp at the Apex for a face to face apology.
Doug Spelling in his Royal Signal Corps blazer and tie.met Sarah Stamp at the Apex for a face to face apology.

An ex-serviceman has received a personal apology after being told he could not stand for the National Anthem at The Apex.

The Bury St Edmunds venue will also review signs and ‘no standing in the balcony’ messages on tickets, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for heritage, arts and culture Sarah Stamp promised old soldier Doug Speller on Monday.

Having enjoyed other concerts at The Apex, Doug, 74, who served with the Royal Artillery and Royal Corps of Signals, and his wife Jo popped in to buy tickets for next month’s Royal Signals Band concert.

The only seats left were near the stage or in the balcony, so they chose the balcony.

Doug, from Thetford, said: “We paid and then she said in the balcony you’re not allowed to stand.

“I said ‘what about the National Anthem and she said you’re not allowed to stand because of health and safety.

“It annoyed me so much. How dare they tell me I can’t stand for the National Anthem. Do you mean to tell me I’ve got to insult my Queen?”

Soldiers also traditionally stand for their regimental march, which would be played at the concert. Doug saw six years with the artillery in the Far East and Germany and 18 years in the signals with the Territorial Army.

On Monday Cllr Stamp met him at The Apex and told him: “I’m really sorry it’s happened. I’m with you — the national anthem is important. I’m in favour of standing for it.”

She said the member of staff had been ‘over zealous’ in applying health and safety rules. When Jo told her the staff member was only quoting what it said on the tickets, Cllr Stamp said that wording would be reviewed.