The manager at a pub in West Wickham, south London, has described the unusual moment he wrestled a four-legged customer to the ground when a panicked deer bounded in after running down the high street. The male Roe deer, who was about the same size as a Great Dane, surprised pub dwellers when he bounded into the conservatory of The Swan on Thursday. Thanks to the quick-thinking actions of staff and customers, the animal survived the ordeal and was safely released back into the wild. Manager Neil Howley said he was going upstairs when his wife Michelle shouted “there’s a deer in the conservatory!”
“I thought she’s finally lost the plot,” he said.
“I walked out and there’s a bloody great big deer bouncing around the conservatory.”
Fearing the deer would smash the conservatory windows, Mr Howley said he grabbed hold of the animal, dragged it out outside and wrestled it to the ground.
He said the deer was “very, very strong” and Mr Howley was left black and blue after being kicked several times.
In his three years as manager he said it was the first time a deer has visited the pub.
Karin Gerwat, who volunteers with Riverside Animal Centre in Waddon, was called by her friend who spotted the frightened animal running down The Grove in West Wickham, along the high street and into the pub.
Known for her animal rescue experience, Ms Gerwat rushed over to the pub where she found the staff had managed to catch the frightened animal, estimated to be around two years old.
She said: “My friend basically phoned me saying there’s a deer in the pub.
They were so calm in the pub. I got there as quickly as I could, they dealt with it beautifully.”
She said Mr Howley had “bravely managed to grab the deer and gently steer it out onto the patio of the pub”, before they covered its eyes with a cloth to calm the animal down.
“With the help of a local community police officer and another gentleman who was drinking there, they managed to calm the deer down until things could get organised to release the deer back into the woods,” Ms Gerwat added.
A man who was in the pub at the time offered to drive home to fetch his large dog crate which they used to transport the deer to Wickham Common where it was released.
Ms Gerwat said: “It was a fantastic community effort as deer are very sensitive creatures and can easily die through stress.
“Everyone was willing to do whatever in order to save the deer.
Thanks to the calmness of Neil and the help of those in the pub, we were able to get this beautiful creature back to where he should be with no injuries and minimal stress.”
She believes the deer could have been knocked down and suffered concussion earlier in the day, causing it to panic and run.
In her time as a volunteer Ms Gerwat has helped with many animal rescues, but this she said was the most bizarre yet.
“I have seen deer being rescued, but never in a pub,” she added.