Staff at Hayes Travel branch in St Thomas, Exeter

Travel agents embark on cycle challenge to send 6-year-old to Disney

Mary Youlden's picture
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Saturday, September 7, 2019 - 11:20am

STAFF from eight Hays Travel branches are taking part in a cycle challenge alongside the firefighters from Middlemoor Fire Station who are cycling from Exeter to Basingstoke over a two day period in September.

The travel agent staff will match the firefighters’ miles using exercise bikes in the eight shops along the route.

On 30th May this year, firefighters from the Exeter group of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service rescued Amelie Aitken from a terrible road traffic collision. Tragically her father passed away at the scene.  

The firefighters are now cycling from Exeter to Basingstoke, where the family were travelling to at the time of the accident, in the hope to raise enough money to send Amelie to Disney. 

Hays Travel have not only sponsored the team cycling the 150 miles but the local retail branches located along the route are matching the team’s miles on exercise bikes within their branches over the same days in an attempt to raise even more funds. The branches taking part are based in Exeter St Thomas, Honiton, Sidmouth, Tiverton, Yeovil, Salisbury, Topsham, and Basingstoke.

Mandy Sousa, manager of the Hays Travel Foundation, said: “We got involved because it is a great cause, and Hays’ ethos is helping children through the Hays Travel Foundation. But also our branches are encouraged to help within the local community. The journey the firefighters are travelling passed a number of our branches, so this is a great way to get them all involved.

“The job of a firefighter is extremely high pressured and we can only imagine the tragedies they come across. They are going above and beyond their duties to help Amelie get to Disney and it has been our pleasure to be involved.”

Each branch within Hays Travel get a yearly budget that they can use to sponsor any fundraising activities to support those in need within their local community.

Daniel Lampard, Firefighter from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service, said: “We’re aiming to see them [Amelie and her family] to either Paris or Orlando depending on how much we can raise.

“We are genuinely overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm towards our challenge. For Hays Travel to be so generous without being directly involved in the accident is just amazing. When I got the initial call from Mandy it genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

“I honestly can’t thank Hays Travel enough for what they’re doing.”

The firefighters have so far raised just over half the amount they need on their Just Giving page. However, they still need around £3,500 to get to their target. With the help of public donations and the money raised by the Hays Travel branches, which is then matched by the Hays Travel Foundation, they hope to succeed in getting Amelie and her family to Disney.

For more information on Amelie’s challenge and to donate contact your local Hays Travel branch or visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/amelias-challenge.