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Gipsy family feels 'racially attacked' after Hilton hotel, Watford, cancels funeral wake
A Bedmond woman will "fight for a new law for English travellers" after she claims her husband’s funeral was cancelled two days before it was due to take place, after the hotel found out they were gipsies.
Mary Watson believes she has been "racially attacked" because the Hilton hotel in Watford cancelled her husband’s funeral wake two days before it was due to take place.
Her husband Jacky Watson died on January 4 and Mrs Watson had organised the funeral wake to take place at the hotel in Elton Way on January 12.
Mrs Watson who lives on the Oaklands site, Bedmond Road, was informed the booking had been cancelled on January 10.
She said she believes it was a racist attack against English travellers and vows for a change in law.
Mrs Watson said: "As if it wasn’t a shock enough losing my husband, two days before they cancel his funeral. It was one shock after another.
"It makes me feel sick that the authorities that you look up to could do this and I would like to know why they did this."
Mr Watson died of an unexpected aneurism at the age of 68 which has left his family, friends and neighbours devastated.
Mrs Watson added: "Jacky was my hero and for him it was all about his children and eight grandchildren. He was well respected by everyone and for as long as I live I will not let them get away with it and I will fight for the English gipsies.
"This was a racist attack and they have judged us without knowing the truth. I want my voice to be heard and a law for English travellers so this cannot happen again."
On hearing the news of the cancellation, Mrs Watson said she contacted the Hilton and was informed a wedding had instead been booked in its place. She and her three children, Tammy Jane, Tom and Jacky were then forced to organise another location for the wake.
The wake took place in Sopwell House, St Albans and hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects to Mr Watson.
Tammy Jayne paid tribute to her father "the best dad in the world."
She said: "He was a true gentleman and as a quiet family man he earned the respect of non travellers and travellers alike.
"He is always in our hearts and always on our minds."
Huw Harrow, spokesperson from Hilton Worldwide said following advice from the police, concerns over guest numbers and hotel capacity meant that "unfortunately" they could not allow the function to go ahead.
He said: "At Hilton Watford, the safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance. As such, we have a responsibility to ensure that any functions taking place at the hotel comply with stringent health and safety measures.
"As a place of public accommodation, Hilton Watford does not discriminate against any individual or group and we are sorry for any distress this situation has caused."
Chief Inspector Dean Patient said police had made routine enquiries to ensure they were aware of the potential impact on local policing, including traffic.
He said: "When we are informed of planned events, including funerals with large attendances, it is normal for officers to make inquiries beforehand in order to ensure we understand the potential impact on local policing and the wider public in relation to matters such as traffic.
"In this case we were kindly informed by the family of Mr Watson beforehand that a large number of people were expected to attend and we therefore contacted relevant parties in order to coordinate policing and traffic management on the day, and ensure the safety of everyone concerned.
"Information about the event was passed on to the hotel and it appears that as a result of this, the hotel made a decision to cancel the booking.
"We were not party to this decision but we understand that this was in relation to concerns about the venue’s capacity.
"It was never our intention that in passing on the information the event would be disrupted."