Holiday company makes U-turn after refusing to refund or reschedule a Huntingdon family’s trip following three-year-old daughter’s emergency brain surgery
10:00 23 July 2014
A holiday company which said ‘no’ to refunding or rescheduling a Huntingdon family’s trip despite them cancelling because their three-year-old daughter required emergency brain surgery, has changed its mind after intervention from The Hunts Post.
Sianade and Ronnie Bell, of Bradshaw Close, had saved up for months to be able to afford a long-awaited two-week break in Spain for them and their four children with First Choice, and were due to leave yesterday (Tuesday).
But they were forced to pull-out after their daughter, Daisy, was taken seriously ill. First Choice initially refused to be flexible about its terms and conditions but relented after being contacted by The Hunts Post.
Mrs Bell explained how her daughter’s health had suddenly deteriorated. “Last Monday, Daisy woke up screaming with a headache. I took her to A&E at Hinchingbrooke and she was admitted to Holly Ward and they decided she was OK.
“Then, at 2pm that day I took her back because she was still screaming. As soon as I got her there she was unresponsive and had to be incubated. Her body was just shutting down.
“They called an ambulance and rushed her to Addenbrooke’s for surgery.”
A scan had revealed that a shunt in Daisy’s brain – fitted when she was a baby to fix hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain – had become blocked and needed to be fixed urgently.
An operation was carried out in the early hours of last Tuesday but the following morning she was unresponsive again and had to be rushed back to the operating theatre. The same happened again on Friday.
Mrs Bell said: “She had to have three brain surgeries in four days. Obviously, there’s been lots of tears as we see her being incubated again and again and taken into surgery again and again.”
Daisy was allowed home on Sunday but her neuro surgeon had already said she would be unable to fly.
Mrs Bell added: “My mum, while we were in hospital, rang First Choice to say we would not be going because Daisy could not fly. They said because Daisy did not give 14 days’ notice, we would not be entitled to our money back or to change to a different date.”
The holiday had been booked as a treat for the children, Daisy, Brandon, 13 and twins Shay and Lily, seven.
“We booked it last year and saved and saved and scrimped and saved,” said Mrs Bell. “It cost £5,000 for two weeks in the
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sun which we thought the children deserved.
“We do a lot of charity work with the children and thought they deserved to go away.”
As a family, the Bells have raised thousands of pounds for good causes involved in providing care to people like Daisy, including taking part in numerous charity runs and cake sales.
A First Choice spokesman said: “We’ve been in contact with the Bell family and have reached a solution they are happy with. They’re looking to re-book their holiday at an alternative time.”
A delighted Mrs Bell thanked The Hunts Post, adding: “They offered to let us use the money for another holiday either later this year or next year, which is much better.
“They said they don’t usually do things like this but thought they had to do the right thing.”