During the third terror attack on Britain in less than three months, on-trade staff showed their true colours in doing all they could to ensure the safety of the public, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls has told The Morning Advertiser (MA).
“This was a senseless attack on innocent people going out and enjoying London's vibrant night-time economy,” she said.
“Once again, our teams were on the front line and once again acted swiftly and effectively to protect our guests and to work with first responders to help keep people safe.”
More than 16 pubs and many more bars and restaurants surround the area where the attack took place, most of which offered shelter to worried people fleeing the terrorists, who killed eight and wounded 48 – 22 of them seriously.
The three knife-wielding assailants, who started their rampage by first mowing people down in a white van on London Bridge and then stabbing dozens of revellers around Borough Market, were shot dead by police.
At their own risk
Bar staff in the area managed to protect many customers and passers-by at their own risk, including those at Young’s-owned pub the Wheatsheaf on Stoney Street.
Two of the pub’s team were taken to hospital after sustaining injuries while helping customers they had managed to lock in the pub.
- READ a customer’s account of what happened and how the bar staff saved the lives of those barricaded in the pub
The pub group and brewer's chief executive Patrick Dardis said: "Two of our staff at the Wheatsheaf were attacked as they sought to protect our customers and colleagues, but I am relieved to say their injuries are, thankfully, not life-threatening and both are recovering well.
"No one should expect to go to work and find themselves confronted with the horrific events that unfolded on Saturday night and I am immensely proud of the team who were on duty at the Wheatsheaf and Bunch of Grapes for the way they dealt with what was an extremely frightening situation.
"I am in no doubt their swift and brave actions saved lives and I cannot thank them enough.
"Young's is a London company through and through and we stand with all Londoners and all visitors to this great city of ours against anyone who seeks to challenge the way of life and the values we all hold dear."
Even pubs not directly in the attack zone opened their doors to fleeing pedestrians, such as the Draft House Tower Bridge where staff reopened the venue and offered refuge to those in need.
The pub group’s operations director Richard Peachment told MA: “Our site is less than a 10 minute walk round the corner from London Bridge station.”
He continued: “We got a bit of an influx of people just before we closed at about 10:45 – because we have to close at 11 on a Saturday.
“These people were in shock and the team acted professionally by allowing those people to stay in the pub after we had closed.”
Find a safe way home
Staff did not leave the site until everyone was able to find a safe way home and so eventually shut up at 12:45, Peachment added.
An increase in terrorist attacks has led many pub businesses to reassess their security measures. Peachment said: “We have always encouraged our staff to remain vigilant every day and we will refresh that message.
“We will engage with the local authority and we receive regular updates from the licensing authority.”
British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "This was an appaling attack on innocent people as they enjoyed their Saturday night in one of the busiest parts of London.
"We do urge pubs to be vigilant against the threat of terrorism, and there were many heroic actions from the bar and restaurant staff on Saturday.
"As more details become clear, pubs should monitor advice from the police, brief staff and have terrorism as part of their risk assessment of the premisis."
She added that, given the degree of focus the attackers had on hospitality venues, the BBPA would be working with the Metropolitan Police and other organisations to ensure their is effective safety guidance for pubs.
Below you can read some of the messages of support from the pub trade and others following the attack:
Thoughts with families of those murdered, the hurt, all who witnessed last night, those hospitality folk at work and the police and services— Oisín Rogers (@McMoop) June 4, 2017
Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone killed, injured or traumatised by these murders. Just appalling.— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) June 4, 2017
Once again terrorists wreak murder & heartbreak on our streets. Police response saves many more lives, we owe them so much.— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) June 4, 2017
Many thanks for everyone's tweets. Very proud of all our staff! Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected. #staysafeLondon— Wheatsheaf (@tweetsheaf) June 4, 2017
Pubs, hotels, London citizens offered strangers shelter during terror attack https://t.co/fqwy2DFPsG— Trendr (@trendr) June 5, 2017
Thanks to @tweetsheaf staff for acting so quickly to keep as many punters safe as possible. Hope everybody is ok.— Chris Harris (@CharrisTweeting) June 4, 2017
Was locked in at Wheatsheaf near London Bridge but bar staff handled really well. We have been let go by the armed police.— Chris Harris (@CharrisTweeting) June 3, 2017