A WOMAN has spoken of her disappointment after her dream holiday was one of thousands cancelled due to the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Karen Meadows, from Hexham, had booked flights to Florida for her and her family with the travel company.

However, following the company’s liquidation over the weekend, she was left with a £4,000 bill and no guarantee of getting her money back.

She said: “We had our dream holiday booked for October when Thomas Cook went into liquidation.

“We heard worrying reports that if you were flight only, with no Atol protection, you were in trouble – which we were.

“I had a bit of a panic and ended up going on Martin Lewis’s website, (the money saving expert) which told me if you booked by debit or credit card you should be able to get the money back via insurance.

“We put a lot of money into this, it was £4,000 just for the flights.

“The forms I had to fill out took forever, but I’ve sent them off and hopefully we’ll get some back. I’m not sure if it will be all of it. I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to it, it was all booked and planned. But I’m relieved I’ll get some money back.”

Other residents of the Tyne Valley who had booked with Thomas Cook also had their holidays put in jeopardy, but many managed to make alternative travel arrangements.

The collapse of the 178-year-old company looks set to hit up to 9,000 jobs in the UK, with Thomas Cook branches across the country closing.

The full extent of job losses in the region looks set to be in the hundreds, with around 150 Thomas Cook staff at Newcastle Airport affected. 
The company’s only store in Tynedale, on Prudhoe Front Street, closed its doors immediately.

A spokesman for the government’s insolvency agency, which is now handling the stores, said: “Retail shops will close with immediate effect. Some employees will be retained to assist the special managers from administrators KPMG to wind-up the shops’ operations.”

Meanwhile, staff at Hexham’s Hays Travel store on Fore Street have been hard at work helping customers.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “The team in Hexham have been working non-stop to ensure that all of their customers who were booked on a Thomas Cook holiday or flight have had their holiday rebooked or will obtain a refund.

“We’re also reaching out to as many former Thomas Cook staff as possible, aiming to get as many people as possible back into the working environment.” 

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman expressed sympathy for those who had lost their jobs.

Mr Opperman said: “Thomas Cook is one of the UK’s oldest travel agents and its sudden demise is very sad, particularly for local people employed by Thomas Cook. 

“I fully support the government and the Civil Aviation Authority, which are now operating a massive repatriation operation to bring home all stranded holiday makers.”