Thetford army veteran ‘gobsmacked’ after Bury St Edmunds’ Apex Theatre bans standing for national anthem

Doug Speller, a 74-year-old army veteran, who has been prevented from standing during the national a

Doug Speller, a 74-year-old army veteran, who has been prevented from standing during the national anthem while at the Apex theatre in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

An Army veteran was left ‘gobsmacked’ after being told he couldn’t stand for a military performance of the national anthem due to health and safety regulations.

Doug Speller, a 74-year-old army veteran, who has been prevented from standing during the national a

Doug Speller, a 74-year-old army veteran, who has been prevented from standing during the national anthem while at the Apex theatre in Bury St Edmunds. COLLECT - Credit: Archant

Retired Royal Artillery serviceman Doug Speller felt the Apex Theatre in Bury St Edmunds had insulting him and the Queen when booking office staff told him he would have to remain seated throughout the Path to Peace concert in November.

The 74-year-old Thetford resident had also been looking forward to watching his regiment’s official march performed live and couldn’t believe the theatre had banned him from showing his respect.

“How dare they tell me I can’t stand for the national anthem?” he said.

“The national anthem is what this country is all about, it’s what people fought for so that we could be free, so as far as I am concerned we should be standing up to protect it not banning people from respecting it because of silly regulations.

“Health and safety is a good idea when it’s done properly but things like this really beggar belief.”

Mr Speller, who served six years as a gunner in the Far East and Germany followed by 18 years as a Territorial Army sergeant, has since received an apology from the theatre.

Most Read

St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which runs Apex, says there had been a ‘misapplication of health and safety principles’, that were to deter audiences from dancing dangerously, not standing in respect.

“We will make sure that our staff understand how rules apply to this part of the building, for the various types of events held here,” a spokesman said.

Mr Speller, however, believes the council is just ‘back-tracking’. Having enjoyed Status Quo at the Ipswich Regent and other performances at Norwich’s Theatre Royal, Mr Speller still believes Apex’s dancing ban to be excessive.

“It’s a lovely theatre but if they want to survive they shouldn’t be doing silly things like this,” he said.

“It’s like so many things in this country, they want to stop this and stop that, you’ve got to wonder whether they’ll try to do away with the national anthem all together.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter