Miners’ Club branded Scrooge over dinner ticket snub

Sam Tonks has been a member for 50 years, but is barred from attending the Christmas party after being unable to renew his membership
Sam Tonks has been a member for 50 years, but is barred from attending the Christmas party after being unable to renew his membership

A pensioner who has been a member of a social club for more than 50 years was refused tickets for the organisation’s Christmas dinner.

Sam Tonks didn’t qualify because he hadn’t paid his annual dues.

However, the angry grandfather said he missed the membership deadline because he was seriously ill in hospital.

Now he and his family are accusing Tannochside Miners’ Club of a Scrooge-like attitude after a plea to embrace the season of goodwill and think again was turned down.

The club insists Mr Tonks (79) had “ample opportunity” after his health problems to renew his £2 membership, but he claims his repeated approaches were ignored.

Mr Tonks, of Chestnut Crescent, Viewpark, said: “They have shown no compassion to someone who has been a member for more than 50 years.

“I couldn’t renew early this year because I was in hospital for a month then spent five weeks in the house recuperating. I couldn’t get to the club.”

The retired lorry driver said when he got better and started attending the club again he raised the issue with various club officials, but didn’t get an answer. Then when he inquired about the Christmas dinner, which 
is this Friday, he was told he would have to buy a £15 ticket.

Mr Tonks said: “I go to the club every Sunday to meet friends for a drink. My wife, Janette, and I go to the Christmas dinner every year, we had our wedding reception in the club and any time a family member has died we’ve gone there after the funeral.

“There’s no way I’m paying for tickets, but I’m not too bothered about missing it. I just want people to know how I’ve been treated.”

Mrs Tonks added: “It might seem a petty row, but it’s all about the principle, what the club have done to someone who was in hospital.”

The couple’s daughter Ann McGill wrote to the club, pleading with officials to reconsider, and contacted Councillor Bob Burrows who also urged a rethink.

She said: “I’m quite shocked by the committee’s attitude. It’s like something Scrooge would do and I can’t understand why they are making such a big thing of it.

“The Christmas dinner is the social event of the year and I just want them to be sensible.”

Jim Coffey, club president and secretary, insisted the club acted reasonably.

He said: “Everyone managed to renew their membership, but Mr Tonks didn’t though he had ample opportunity. The rules are clear and we are not prepared to budge.

“It would be unfair on everyone who has renewed to change the rules to suit one person. The Christmas dinner and one in the summer are a reward for our members.

“Mr Tonks might have been a member for 50 years before this, but a lot of other people have been as well.”

Mr Tonks said despite the row he intends to apply for membership again in 2017 and he won’t let the episode spoil his Christmas.

He said: “Janette and I are going out for dinner with the family at the weekend and then to a pantomime. I might even go into the club later for a pint!”