Christopher Chan

Region’s brides jilted as two popular venues close the doors

BRIDES-to-be intending to celebrate their special day at two popular wedding venues have been left jilted even before they get to the altar.

Kershaw House in Rockhampton and Manta's On The Beach at Cooee Bay have been closed after the business running the venues was recently deemed insolvent.

Court documents from last year reveal the business, run by Karyn Battersby, owed the Australian Taxation Office $148,000.

Popular wedding photographer David Harbutt believes the closures could have effected more than 100 brides-to-be.

Shareen McMillan, the landlord of the property which Ms Battersby leased for Manta's, said she had been hastily trying to contact the 16 brides whose receptions were booked at the venue.

"I really feel for the brides; it's a stressful time for them already," she said.

Ms McMillan said Ms Battersby had told her she would be made bankrupt if she did not pay a tax bill.

But Ms McMillan knew very little about the bill and she assumed everything was fine when Ms Battersby renewed her three-year lease late last year.

Ms McMillan was shocked by the closure, saying the venue had been booked solid for weeks ahead.

But she said they already had four people interested in the venue and one serious potential tenant who intended to take over and honour all of the booked weddings.

Like Ms McMillan, the Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton - the owner of Kershaw House - said it was unsure of the exact details that forced the closure. But the church said it knew there was a "cash-flow problem".

Earlier this week the church said Ms Battersby had given it one week's notice and it could now only contact her through email and post. It is now up to the church board to decide what to do about the venue and whether it can honour the receptions booked.

The Morning Bulletin tried to contact Ms Battersby, but her business email has been permanently closed and landlines to both venues have been disconnected.

One source within the wedding industry, who asked to remain anonymous, said Ms Battersby's mobile phone was also disconnected and she could only be contacted by text message when she had wi-fi reception.

According to the court documents, Ms Battersby and her husband were estranged and she said she did not receive a statutory demand from the taxation office.

The source said they knew of one reception booked for Kershaw House that was set to have 160 guests and the couple intended to leave for an overseas honeymoon the day after the wedding.

Bride-to-be Kate Gladman last year booked her dream wedding at Manta's and paid a deposit.

She said she did not receive any notification that Manta's was insolvent and had made 17 unreturned phone calls to Ms Battersby.

But Ms Gladman was relieved by Ms McMillan's reassuring phone call last week.

Ms Gladman said she was relieved her wedding date was not close, but there were many people worse off than her.

Mr Harbutt said most brides had discovered the closure through online bridal groups. He said Ms Battersby was a lovely woman and he didn't know how she managed two wedding venues.

He expects the closures could taint future business for both venues when they reopen. "I would just hate to be one of those brides," Mr Harbutt said.

"There's been a lot of people burnt by this."



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