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Breast-feeding mother left in tears after abuse in restaurant.

Byline: Bethany White Reporter

ANEW mother was left in tears after a man objected to her breast-feeding in a restaurant. Keely McMahon-Perry, 35, was enjoying her daughter Matilda's fourth birthday dinner with her husband and children when she needed to feed her baby son Joseph.

She discreetly started to feed her four-month-old when she noticed a fellow diner in The Brook Bistro in Whitchurch, Cardiff, staring at her.

Keely, who lives in Whitchurch, said: "I noticed the gentleman looking at me and muttering, saying things like, 'I'm trying to eat'.

"I knew what he was trying to get at so I asked him, 'Do you have a problem?' "He looked straight at me and said: 'Yes - it's disgusting'. I said: 'Well I'm not going to stop'."

The man said he was "trying to eat his dinner" and continued to stare at Keely and make inappropriate comments.

Keely continued to feed Joseph until she felt a "wave of emotion" and had to leave to go to the bathroom to get herself out of the situation.

She said: "I'm pretty tough and I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he'd upset me. The kitchen staff saw I was upset and asked me if I was OK.

"I'd breast-fed my elder daughter until she was about one and I'd had the odd look but nothing to this level.

"It always seemed to happen to somebody else. I was wearing a collared shirt and jumper so my breasts weren't all on show.

"I felt very unsettled at the time but I feel a lot better now thanks to the support of my family and friends."

While she was gone, her husband Chris Perry, 35, confronted the man, who appeared to be in his fifties.

He said: "I was oblivious to his tutting, eye-rolling, and muttering as he was sat behind me, until Keely said something.

"Always chatty and friendly, I thought she was asking if he had an issue with his meal. But, no, his problem was my son getting served his lunch while he ate his."

Chris admitted the man's insults made him "lose his cool".

He said: "It was my daughter's birthday celebration and, like most parents, we don't go out for meals much, and I told the man he'd ruined it.

"It was awful for my daughter to see her mum in tears and her dad shouting."

He added that the diner was "unrepentant" - although the woman with him was "mortified" and kept asking her companion to be quiet.

Staff at the restaurant quickly came over and asked the man to leave while other diners rallied around the couple, with one saying Keely should not be hurt by his ignorance.

Chris said: "Those who abuse breast-feeding mothers in public should be ashamed of themselves.

"I'd like to think he stormed out of the restaurant before finishing his roast and glass of red because he knew his comments were hurtful, damaging and he was embarrassed by his behaviour.

"But I'm afraid he wasn't sorry in the slightest and refused to apologise for the hurt he had caused."

Keely and Chris said staff at The Brook were "brilliant" and wanted to thank them for their response.

Manager Darren Beddis said breast-feeding mothers were "always welcome".

He said: "His behaviour was disgusting, outrageous.

"His choice of language was completely inappropriate - there were young children around.

"My brother Josh, who was there at the time, just went over and asked him to leave.

"People like that aren't welcome. I don't know if it's the change in political atmosphere that gives people a new-found confidence to express these horrible opinions.

"I hoped it would never be an issue - we haven't been open long but we've had a lot of mothers come in and breast-feed."

Keely, who works for Business in the Community, added: "He just made me feel so small. I'm Australian and in Australia there's a higher rate of breast-feeding and it seems more acceptable over there.

"I wonder if the reason people breast-feed less in the UK is because they are worried that people will take offence.

"That man wanted to cause offence and he did. He should have a look at the benefits of breast-feeding and I'd like to know what about the back of my son's head he found so offensive. It's the most natural thing in the world," she said.


Joseph Perry

Keely McMahon-Perry with husband Chris and children Matilda and Joseph
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 16, 2016
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