Music legend puts money behind bar at Norfolk pubs to celebrate birthday

EMBARGOED TO 1800 FRIDAY MARCH 13 Undated handout photo issued by OfficialCharts.com of Paul Heaton

Paul Heaton with former Beautiful South bandmate Jacqui Abbott - Credit: PA

Music legend Paul Heaton put £1,000 behind the bar of two Norfolk pubs as he celebrated his 60th birthday. 

The former Beautiful South and The Housemartins lead singer had originally planned to do a tour of 60 pubs across the UK but announced on social media that it had been postponed due to "recording delays". 

Instead, singer-songwriter Heaton confirmed he put money, believed to be £60,000 in total, behind the bar of 60 pubs across the UK to celebrate his landmark birthday on Monday, May 9.

The list included The Red Hart in Bodham in north Norfolk and The Eagle in Norfolk Street, King's Lynn.

The Red Hart Inn, Bodham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Red Hart Inn, Bodham. - Credit: ANTONY KELLY

Lee Merritt, landlord of The Red Hart, admitted his surprise at being one of the pubs chosen.

He said: "It was brilliant to be picked but the announcement did come as a bit of a surprise.

"We've already had the money come through so we expect to be quite busy later on."

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In 2012, Heaton cycled 2,500 miles across 40 days to mark his 50th birthday, and Mr Merritt added that he believes the plan had been to undertake a similar effort.

He said: "They promoted a load of pubs a number of years ago.

"Unfortunately, they couldn't get round to it again but it's great they've decided to do this instead."

In a post on social media, Heaton said: "To celebrate my 60th birthday I'd originally intended to do another bicycle tour, visiting and performing at 60 pubs across the UK and Ireland. 

The Red Hart was one of the pubs chosen to receive £1,000 behind the bar by Paul Heaton

The Red Hart was one of the pubs chosen to receive £1,000 behind the bar by Paul Heaton - Credit: The Red Hart

"However, due to recording delays caused by the pandemic, I've had to shelve these plans for the time being.

"Instead, I've decided that the next best way to celebrate this coming of age is to handpick 60 pubs across the UK and Ireland and put a given amount of money behind each one."

Heaton formed The Housemartins in the 1980s and topped the charts with the hits Happy Hour and Caravan of Love.

He went on to form the Beautiful South, and again topped the charts - the band's most popular single being A Little Time, released in 1990.

Heaton had urged people to show their support and "raise a toast" to him on his birthday.

He added: "Then, both regulars and yourselves can enjoy a birthday drink on me (until the money runs out, or the bar runs dry).

"The hope is to bring people together on the day, while recognising that many folk who bought my records or showed me support of the years, could do with a wee party, as we come out of Covid and hit potential financial struggles."