The collapse of Thomas Cook this week rocked the nation. The travel firm went into administration on Monday leaving thousands jobless and some 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.
The company failed to find the £200m it needed in extra funds to prevent it from folding.
As the UK’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation, dubbed Operation Matterhorn, gets underway, here are some of the acts of kindness which have warmed our hearts at such a difficult time.
1. Kind Stranger Pays For Woman’s Flight Home.
A Thomas Cook customer who was worried about getting home to the UK, as she’d run out of medication on holiday, has been given a free flight home.
Jackie Ward, 58, was on holiday with daughter Amy, 24, celebrating being given the all-clear from cancer.
She feared she wouldn’t be able to get home on Monday and was particularly concerned as she only had enough medication to last her until Sunday.
After appearing on Sky News, a man, known only as Colin, contacted the broadcaster and offered to pay for Jackie and Amy’s ticket.
2. Plane Passengers Whip Round For Thomas Cook Flight Crew.
Stephanie Kaye, 25, told PA Media that when the plane landed just before 8am on Monday, tearful staff discovered the company had collapsed.
“When we landed the pilot came on the Tannoy and said, ‘our dream has ended’ and told us the staff would probably not be getting paid for working that flight,” she said.
“Staff had remained so professional throughout the eight-hour flight, so the passengers did a whip round for them. People were being really generous, stuffing rolls of cash, and leftover dollars, into two carrier bags.
“I don’t know how much cash there was, but there were two very full carrier bags.”
3. Thomas Cook Staff Work For Free To Get People Home.
Despite knowing they won’t be paid, some Thomas Cook staff have been working hard to help people return home from their holidays.
Patricia Callaghan took to Twitter to thank staff: “Thank you to the Thomas cook staff that voluntarily staffed the plane that brought my niece and great niece home this morning,” she wrote. “May your actions be rewarded by kindness tenfold.”
4. Taxi Firm Offers Free Rides To Thomas Cook Staff Attending Job Interviews.
Former Thomas Cook staff members are being offered free taxi rides to job interviews by Peterborough Cars. “We support you all and hope you all land on your feet sooner rather than later,” they wrote on Facebook.
5. Hotel Promises To Look After Guests.
When a letter slid under the door of Thomas Cook customer Maève Pendlebury’s hotel room, she feared the worst. But she needn’t have worried.
The letter from the hotel said that despite facing “large debts” as a result of Thomas Cook’s administration, the hotel would be honouring guests’ stays.
“The Atrium Hotels wish to reassure that our most valued asset is each individual guest,” the manager wrote. “Please continue to enjoy your well-deserved scheduled holiday guaranteed by the hotel.”
6. Hairdresser Offers Free Treatments To Thomas Cook Staff.
Even the smallest gestures haven’t failed to go unnoticed. A salon in Peterborough is offering free treatments to Thomas Cook staff throughout the month.
“As a Peterborough business we are saddened to hear of the news of Thomas Cook today, especially as many of our clients work there,” salon staff wrote on Facebook. “We have been thinking all day if/how we can do something for the employees.”
For the rest of September it is offering all Thomas Cook staff either a wash, cut and blow dry with a graduate stylist or a back, neck and shoulder massage with a beauty therapist.
“Although a small gesture, we hope it will be a welcome distraction even for an hour,” they said.
7. Tui Announces Recruitment Fair.
The closure of Thomas Cook has resulted in the loss of 22,000 jobs worldwide, with 9,000 of those being in the UK. Competitor TUI has since revealed it will be holding a recruitment fair at its Luton office for those impacted. “We really feel for everyone affected by this announcement,” a Tui spokesperson said.
8. Ashford Pub Offers Free Drinks For Staff.
The Kings Head pub in Ashford is offering Thomas Cook staff members a drink on them. “We know this is not a solution but we hope it goes some way in showing our appreciation for the decades of hard work,” staff wrote on the pub’s Facebook page.
9. Nursery Offers Free Childcare To Thomas Cook Employees Attending Interviews.
Little Owls Day Nursery in Peterborough is offering support to Thomas Cook staff who have lost their jobs, in the form of free childcare. “We shall be offering you free creche sessions at our sister nursery based at Van Hage in Eye for any new interviews you may have as long as we have proof that you were a part of Thomas Cook and correspondence on interviews for the whole of October,” they wrote on Facebook.
“Such a lovely gesture,” one person commented.
10. Great Northern Rail Offers Full Refunds To Those Impacted By Cancellations.
Great Northern took to Twitter to offer some solace to those impacted by cancelled travel plans. People who bought tickets with GNR and will no longer be travelling can get a full refund with no admin fee.