Hero pub boss hits back at Old Firm outrage

A PUB boss who went out of her way to help vulnerable people at the start of the coronavirus pandemic is fuming at being wrongly brought into an Old Firm football fans


Dianne Irving, who runs the award-winning The Crown, the historic Howard Arms and newly-refurbished Milbourne Arms - all in Carlisle - received national acclaim when she delivered meals to the vulnerable across the city at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

But this weekend Dianne found herself wrongly dragged into a Covid controversy about football fans heading to Carlisle from Scotland to watch the Celtic versus Rangers clash on TV.

One fan posted on social media that he’d organised a 49-seater coach from Dalkeith near Edinburgh so that Celtic and Rangers fans - unable to watch the game in a pub in Scotland due to lockdown - could travel south of the border to watch Saturday’s game on TV at the Howard Arms in Carlisle.

But Dianne, who runs the Howard Arms in Carlisle, knows nothing about the football fans’ trip.

She says they must have meant a different pub because the Howard Arms in Carlisle doesn’t even show live football on TV.

And the historic city centre pub wouldn’t even have room to accommodate 49 people given it is restricted to table service due to coronavirus rules.

Dianne said: “We know absolutely nothing about this. We never heard from this person. We didn’t have any group bookings. We don’t even show live sport at The Howard!

“We haven’t had any Rangers or Celtic fans in the pub this weekend. This whole story has absolutely nothing to do with us.”

Dianne has been at the forefront of technology, and adhered to all the Covid-19 rules to ensure all her regulars at all her pubs are able to enjoy a safe environment.

Dianne Irving
Dianne Irving

She only operates table service at all the venues she runs, takes advance bookings, and enforces social distancing throughout.

She and her staff have been widely praised by customers throughout the pandemic for the lengths they have gone to in order to make everyone feel secure.

Dianne said: “We have put the health and well-being of our customers and staff as the number one priority throughout the pandemic. We would never compromise that.”

Yet because of the football fan’s post, spreading false information, she has found herself, totally innocently, at the centre of a social media storm over the weekend.

She has even been contacted by environmental health on the back of complaints based on the completely incorrect information.

Dianne said: “It’s hard to take to be honest. It’s difficult enough, as anyone in the hospitality industry knows right now, to run a business in this climate.

“But when you work night and day to make sure you are complying with every regulation, only for someone to put a post on social media, wrongly naming our pub, it’s infuriating and so damaging to everything we are doing. It’s soul destroying.

“Our regulars know the type of pub The Howard Arms is. They know this has absolutely nothing to do with us. But anyone else, reading about these football fans on social media, or in the wider media, doesn’t necessarily know the truth. That’s why we need to put the record straight so people know that we have absolutely nothing to do with this.”

Dianne, managing director of Drouth Ltd, is well-known for the responsible way she runs

her business.

The Crown was this year shortlisted in two of Greene King brewery’s national awards as Community Pub of the Year and also Entertainment Pub of The Year.

Dianne also won Best Turnaround Pub of The Year for The Crown in the Great British Pub Awards in 2018.

The Howard Arms in Lowther Street in Carlisle city centre, known for its striking Royal Doulton tiled exterior, has been registered in local directories since 1855.

The historic interior is a fine example of old State Management pubs, which Carlisle is famous for, with small snug-like rooms and a central bar.