The ABTA LifeLine Dinner

Izzie O'Riordan -

Fresh off the tarmac at Gatwick, it was already time to get our fundraising hats back on to prepare for the annual ABTA LifeLine Dinner.

It was held once again at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. As promised, it was an evening of food, fun and fundraising. The food was a delicious three course meal enjoyed amongst great company, the fun was provided by magician Mark Williams who left our guests stunned with everyone asking “but how did he do that?!” and the fundraising came from our auction and prize draw.

We took this opportunity to announce the ABTA LifeLine Bursary in memory of Colin Heal and supported by Travel Weekly. Its aim is to enable people, who would otherwise not be able, to reach their full potential and fulfil their aspirations in their chosen travel career. Each year individuals will be welcomed to apply for the bursary which will assist with course fees, provide a senior mentor from the travel industry and allow the individual the opportunity to attend key industry events.

The very first bursary was awarded to Melissa Camp from Classic Collection Holidays. Melissa applied for help after her father died leaving her in financial uncertainty and with an autistic brother to care for. She is working part time at Classic Collection holidays at the same time as completing a degree in business management. She was contemplating giving up her university degree to work full time to be able to support herself and her brother. The ABTA LifeLine Trustees, with the support of Classic Collection, felt that Melissa was a worthy recipient of the very first bursary in memory of Colin. The award has meant that Melissa can continue working and studying at the same time giving her the opportunity to fulfil her career potential.

After the main course, it was time to welcome our guest speaker, young explorer Alex Staniforth, who spoke about overcoming adversity. It was inspiring to hear him speak about the challenges he had faced during his attempt to become the youngest ever Brit to climb Mount Everest. 

But whilst it was lovely that everyone could come together for a fun evening amongst friends, there was of course a very real reason we were all there. And that was to raise money for people in our industry who are in real need. To that end, we were honoured that one of the recent families we have helped came to share their story. John shared the emotional rollercoaster he and his family had been on after his wife was diagnosed with secondary cancer of the liver, and how ABTA LifeLine had been there in his family’s hour of need.

Tears wiped and make up reapplied, it was time to welcome Derek Jones, a now dab hand auctioneer! We had some fantastic prizes including a ski holiday donated by Crystal Ski Holidays, TUI, a golfing 4-ball at the Wentworth Club donated by Arnold Fisher and Chubb Insurance and a sailing trip on board a 40ft yacht from Southampton to Cowes, donated by Classic Collection Holidays. Thanks also to Sunvil Holidays, Roger Allard, Resort Marketing International, SpaFinder Wellness and Plexus Law for their wonderful prize donations.

We raised a fantastic £10,000 through the auction and prize draw, so a big thank you to all those who donated and congratulations to the winners!

What a whirlwind of a fortnight for ABTA LifeLine. £27,000 in two weeks is a new record for us and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the travel industry.

Together we really can make a difference.

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