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Benefactor saves family holiday

PUBLISHED: 09:28 13 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:16 05 July 2010

THE family of a severely disabled six-year-old thought their dream of taking him to swim with dolphins in America lay in tatters following the collapse of tour operator XL Leisure Group.

THE family of a severely disabled six-year-old thought their dream of taking him to swim with dolphins in America lay in tatters following the collapse of tour operator XL Leisure Group.

But one woman was determined the Lowestoft family's sad story of being turned away at Gatwick would have a happy ending.

And last night the woman, who only wanted to be known as Jenny, from Halesworth, offered to fund their £6,000 holiday of a lifetime.

Earlier today little Callum Knights, who has cerebral palsy, returned to the airport full of excitement about his trip to Walt Disney World in Florida with his mum and step-dad, grandparents and brother and sister.

The holiday is also a honeymoon for the youngster's mum, Beverley Spencer and her husband Jason.

Mrs Spencer said: “We fly at 11am. Words cannot explain how happy we are. We are just ecstatic. It is just unbelievable. Callum is profoundly deaf so it is hard to explain to him what is happening, but he was so excited when he saw the aeroplanes yesterday and when we had to leave the airport he was so upset.

“I am so relieved and I want to say a big thank you to our benefactor. When we heard we all shed tears of joy.

“I know what Callum is like with animals and it is my dream to see him with the dolphins. We had been planning this trip for over a year and we scrimped and saved to give Callum this holiday.

“When we were turned away yesterday we were absolutely devastated. We were determined not to leave the airport and tried our best to get other flights but everything was too expensive.”

While Callum's family are now on their way to a happy holiday, tens of thousands of other people are still suffering from the aftermath of XL, the UK's third largest tour operator, going into administration yesterday.

The holiday company called in administrators shortly before 3am, leaving about 85,000 people marooned overseas and grounding holiday-bound flights in the UK.

The future holiday plans of an estimated 200,000 people are also in jeopardy.

Flybe is stepping in to help some holidaymakers left stranded. The airline is offering to fly home passengers that were due to travel back to the UK from Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma during the next six days. This rescue package, which costs 90 Euros per person, is available until next Saturday.

A spokesman for the airline said none of the flights back to the UK would be to Norwich International Airport.

To claim the rescue package, passengers should call Flybe customer services on 0871 7002000 from the UK or 0044 1392 268500 from the rest of Europe. They must quote their XL booking reference number when booking tickets and show their XL booking confirmation at check-in.

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