An 88-year-old widower has been barred from the pensioners’ lunch club at Islesburgh for allegedly swearing at a teenager, a charge which he strongly denies.
Roy Whitehead, from Bressay, has been unable to go to lunches for more than six weeks. He has tried to get the ban rescinded but the council, which runs Islesburgh, is adamant that it should stand, citing “aggressive behaviour”.
Mr Whitehead lives alone and says the lunch club is one of his “few contacts” with other people. He is one of its older members, has been a regular since his wife died six years ago, and would like to get back there.
But his six-month ban could be extended indefinitely if he refuses to meet Islesburgh staff and agree to “standards of behaviour”.
Mr Whitehead is reluctant to do this. He said: “I most certainly would be unwilling to meet them, I’ve been humiliated enough.”
He described the situation as “stalemate” and said he is disappointed with the stance taken by the Royal Voluntary Service, the charity that runs the lunch club since it moved to the community centre from Freefield.
He said: “What saddens me is that RVS [seem to have] completely ignored it. I thought their main aim was to help elderly people.”
However his real problem is with the council’s sports and leisure department. After the ban for using “inappropriate language” was imposed by Islesburgh manager Dale Smith, initially for an indefinite period, following an incident on 9th August, Mr Whitehead wrote to sports and leisure manager Neil Watt.
Five weeks later he received a reply, reiterating the ban but this time limiting it to six months from August. He plans to ask his councillor to look into the situation and is considering community mediation.
Mr Whitehead believes he has been unjustly treated since the incident, which happened when he was eating lunch.
According to him, a boy, “who looked about 14”, was playing pool alone on the pool table in the corner of the general purpose room, where the lunch club is held – and was hitting the balls so hard with his cue that one came off the table.
Mr Watt declined to comment about Mr Whitehead’s ban. The Royal Voluntary Service did not wish to comment.