Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barclays rejects cheque for religious pilgrimage... because it's written in Welsh

A high street bank was criticised last night after it rejected a cheque for a religious pilgrimage because it was written in Welsh.

The cheque, for almost £22,000, was supposed to pay for the travel and accommodation costs of a group of 50 pilgrims commemorating a Welsh saint who travelled to Spain almost 400 years ago.

But the trip was thrown into doubt after Barclays Bank refused to accept the cheque, made out to tour operator Tours for Churches, four times.

Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru MP for Caernarfon, North Wales, said he was 'astonished and outraged' at the delay, which he claimed highlighted the need for stricter laws on Welsh language rights.

'The bank are rightly proud of their Welsh language policy which allows people to use the language in their day to day banking affairs,' he said.

'But it is useless if this sort of thing happens repeatedly. This matter is of significance as it highlights the need for new rights for the Welsh language, a matter which is now before the Welsh Assembly.'

The pilgrims, from across Wales, are due to fly to Spain in less than a fortnight to start their journey.

Organised jointly by the Catholic Church and the Church of Wales, they will follow the footsteps of St John Roberts, a Benedictine monk from the village of Trawsfynydd, Snowdonia, North Wales, who travelled to Santiago de Compostela in north-west, Spain in the 17th Century.

He was hanged, drawn and quartered on his return to England for practising Catholicism in London at a time when it was banned by King James I, and was canonised by Pope Paul VI in October 1970.

Siw Roberts, from Pwllheli, North Wales, who is going on the pilgrimage, said the bank had given her several reasons for rejecting the cheque.

'The pilgrimage will be made in the Welsh language, and it is entirely right and proper that the final cheque was paid to the organisers in Welsh,' she said.

'That the cheque was rejected once was embarrassing enough, but it has subsequently been rejected three more times.

'The departure date is very near and the tour company need to send us details of the tickets, but they won’t do so until they receive confirmation the money has been paid in.

'The bank are dragging their heels. They said the words and figures differed, which they do not. Then they said the cheque was unreadable, which it maybe by a machine perhaps, but not by the human eye.

'There was no trouble earlier this year when they accepted the deposit. That was for more than £4,000, so they should sort out their procedures.'

Reverend Edwin Regan, the Catholic Bishop of Wrexham, who is one of the leaders of the pilgrimage, also said he was unhappy about the problems Barclays had caused, but added: 'I am determined the delays will not detract from the group’s enjoyment of the pilgrimage.'

Last night a bank spokesman admitted there had been a problem with translation and blamed the confusion on 'human error'.

However, he said they had since accepted the cheque and the problem was due to be resolved soon.
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(Source: DMO)

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