Published: 06:00, 14 November 2020
| Updated: 19:23, 14 November 2020
Former Strictly dancer James Jordan has criticised a golf club after it refused to refund fees to his dad, who has terminal brain cancer.
The dancer was left stunned and angry after Bearsted Golf Club in Ware Street, near Maidstone, refused to refund his dying dad's annual subscriptions.
He said: "This isn't just about the money. I think they are morally wrong and I want to warn people about them."
Shortly after James, 42, became a dad for the first time in February with his wife and dance partner Ola, his father Allan, 68, was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke.
He has since been diagnosed with a stage-four brain tumour and told he may have only a year to live.
James, who has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and won Dancing On Ice in 2019, said: "My dad and mum are both passionate about golf but now dad has trouble walking and talking which has made it impossible for him to play golf.
"This all started just two weeks after my parents had paid their annual fees of £2,500 in full. They could have paid monthly but dad has always supported the club and wanted it to have the money up front.
"Now he can't play, my mum politely asked for part of their unused subscriptions to be returned. But the club has refused, citing rule number 17 which states no members can get their money back. Their emailed replies have been cold and insensitive.
"This has really upset and disappointed both my dad and me, but especially my mum. How can they justify keeping such a large amount of money when they know full well my dad can't play any more?"
He said his mother Sharon, also 68, was treated rudely in front of other players by a staff member, because she forgot to cancel a booking.
He said: "It was the day my father collapsed, cracked his head open and was rushed to hospital. My mum was so worried about her husband she understandably forgot to call the club to cancel their tee time.”
On a subsequent visit to the club, to have a round with her friends while her husband was still in hospital and she couldn't visit because of the coronavirus pandemic, he says a manager at the club approached her in the car park and told her off for not cancelling her previous tee-time booking.
James said: “My mum was explaining to him about my father's situation. After she finished he replied 'Can you just make sure you cancel your tee time next time?'"
James added: "He told her it makes other members angry. There was no thought of what she had been through and no compassion. I can't believe that in 2020 and with everything we are all going through the club could be so cold and materialistic.”
His mother has asked for the return of the fees as her husband is not well enough to use the club and she spends all her time caring for him.
He added: "People might think Ola and I are rich because we appear on TV but we're not. And my parents certainly aren't. My dad is working class. But golf is their passion and hobby and the one thing they have always saved up for."
James said he had spoken to other clubs and claims all told him they would refund fees in similar circumstances.
He added: "Both Ola and I have made special appearances at Bearsted Golf Club three years in a row but never charged a penny as we wanted to support the club. At one point, four generations of my family were members - my grandad, mum and dad, myself and my nephew. Now, when my parents need help, they are being ignored. It has disgusted me and my family. It is a totally unacceptable way of behaving."
James’ mum Sharon said: “The money was going to be used for alternative medication, which isn’t given on the NHS, to make Allan more comfortable.”
She added: "This isn't about the money any more. It’s about letting other golfers know about the rules of the club, as we would never want this to happen to anyone else at their time of need."
James, who was brought up in Medway and still lives in Kent, said: "My dad is my best mate, role model and hero. He was such a fit guy, out playing golf all the time and had only just retired. This has annoyed me so much on his behalf."
Last month James shared a poignant video on social media of Allan cuddling Ella for the first time. His parents live in Hollingbourne.
Bearsted Golf Club was established in 1895 and boasts a "challenging" tree-lined 18-hole course.
It describes itself on its website as a "friendly club with a great atmosphere" which offers "a warm welcome to visitors and new members alike".
In replying to Mrs Jordan, general manager Keith Osbourne wrote: "I put your request to the committee earlier this week and it is with regret that I inform you that a refund is not possible.
"Under the rules of the club, Rule 17 states: ‘Any member who shall cease to be a member of the club, either by resignation or otherwise, shall have no claim upon, or be entitled to participation in, any of the effects or property of the club, nor shall he/she be entitled to apply for any part of his/her annual subscription for the current year to be returned.’
"Please take care and stay safe during this testing time."
In a separate reply to James, he wrote: "The committee has considered your request and have asked me to advise you they cannot break the rules that they have all signed up to."
In a statement issued this evening (Saturday) Steve Williams, the chairman of Bearsted Golf Club, said: "I have today written to Mrs Jordan confirming that we have taken the decision to offer her and her husband a full refund for the year 2020/21.
"At the same time we have said, on behalf of the club, how desperately sorry we are for the distress and anxiety she and her family must be suffering as a result of Allan’s diagnosis.
"Three generations of the family have been members of the club and they will be missed by many."