A FRAIL pensioner wearing a knitted beret was ordered out of a Sheffield pub - for flouting its ‘no hat’ policy to keep out football hooligans.
Great-grandmother Hilda Nelson lost her hair while fighting for life in hospital and wears the hat to cover her head.
She had been taken out by her family to celebrate her 89th birthday when staff at The Park Hotel in Hillsborough asked her to remove it.
Hilda said at first she thought they were joking - until the pub manager told the whole party to leave if the OAP refused.
The group included her 83-year-old partner Peter Fisher and Eric Ramsden, 74, who uses crutches after a hip operation.
“The pub doesn’t like football fans wearing hats, but we hardly look like hooligans,” Hilda said.
“I couldn’t believe it at first – in fact I laughed when they asked me to remove my hat the first time because I thought they were joking.”
Hilda said she lost her hair after weeks spent in hospital last year.
“I wear the hat when I go out because of the terrible condition my hair is in – lying in a hospital bed all day made it all break off,” she said.
“I am waiting for my hair to grow back and I have to cover it up when I leave the house.
“But what if I had lost my hair through cancer?
“Would they still have made me take my hat off?
“I just think the way they treated us is so silly.”
Her family today demanded an apology from the pub, and said staff should use their discretion when enforcing the ‘no hat’ policy.
Angry son-in-law Mark Ramsden, 53, who has been a regular at the pub for 30 years, said: “When she was asked to take it off because the pub doesn’t allow hats, we said we accepted there was rule for match days but pointed out Hilda was hardly going to cause any trouble.
“She is frail and doesn’t get out much, but when she does she covers her hair up with a little hat because she is embarrassed by it.
“We were left disgusted by the way she was treated.
“She was seriously ill in hospital at the end of last year and we didn’t know if she would pull through.
“But she did and we wanted to take her out for a nice meal for her birthday.”
He added: “It is the attitude of the staff we were most upset about – the manager said, ‘If you don’t like it you can get out’.”
A spokesman for the pub, owned by the Mitchells and Butlers chain, said: “We’d like to offer our sincere apologies to Mrs Nelson and her family for the way in which this situation was handled, and for the embarrassment it caused.
“We do ask customers to remove headwear in the pub. However our staff should have used their discretion on this occasion.
“It is certainly not reflective of how we aim to treat our customers and we have addressed this matter with staff at the pub.”