Saturday, 28 September 2019

Insanity runs in the family!

Today I should be focussing on a blog about Hazelwood parkrun and I will mention that later, but the last week has been somewhat tumultuous in our family!

At 2am on Monday morning my little sister (she may be in her 40s but she will forever be my little sister) got a WhatsApp message telling her not to come in to work.  She was a cabin manager for Thomas Cook, she had worked for them for 20 years since leaving university.  She gained a law degree from a Russel Group university but, on graduating, didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life, so opted to be a 'trolley dolly' for a couple of years.  She loved the life style and quickly progressed to roles with increasing responsibility, taking a short maternity break and returning to her globe trotting lifestyle with the support of her husband.

To date, nearly a week after the collapse of the company, she has not received any communication from either Thomas Cook or the receivers.  She is one of the 'lucky ones' in that her husband is not a Thomas Cook employee.  So many of her friends and colleagues married fellow employees (I guess it  helps when your partner understands the particular stresses and strains of your job) and now neither of them have a job.  The company collapsed a week before payday.  Three weeks of work and no sign of a pay check yet!

So what did my sister do?  Well, she mopped around the house for 24hrs and then she got cross.  Especially when she read about the bonuses the board had taken out of the company over the past few years.  She has spent the last 20 years being reminded that she is ultimately accountable for her actions when at work... but it seems that this doesn't apply to the bosses at Thomas Cook!

This made her a bit cross (actually - she was pretty livid!) and made her want to do something.  She decided to make a banner, put on her uniform and walk to Westminster to demand some answers.  Which doesn't sound that mad an idea until you realise she lives in Devon and that walk is about 200 miles!  I don't know about you, but I am all for mad exploits - but I like a bit of planning.... Rachel didn't have time for planning - she wants to try to meet up with other Thomas Cook employees for a protest so had no choice other than to go to her jobseeker's interview and then set straight off to walk to London from Newton Abbot!

She left at 12.30 yesterday arriving in Exeter at The Devon Hotel (where they looked after her and charged her a discounted rate) and has now finished her second day of walking (somewhere this side of Honiton) and has assured Husbando that she has somewhere safe to stay tonight.  Most people who set off to walk any distance longer than to the local pub and back spend a bit of time working out routes, where they will stay and what to do when things go wrong!  Rachel knows the route - having commuted from Devon to Gatwick for the last 7 or 8 years - but walking is very different to driving!  

I have shared her story pretty widely, and it has been mentioned on the BBC business news website, but what would be lovely would be if people could look out for her as she walks and maybe walk with her for a few miles.  There can't be that many people walking along in Thomas Cook cabin crew uniform - and I'm sure she'd welcome a bit of company and maybe a hot drink.   Or if you are feeling generous you can contribute to her fundraising page here.

I haven't told her yet but I am so proud of her that I am going to try to get her to come to our school to talk to our students about the whole experience... once she has had a chance to recover from her epic journey!

Here is her route for Sunday:

All this was milling around my head as we ran at Hazelwood parkrun today.  Chosen purely because it was on the way into London and JB had already done Homewood parkrun.  Hazelwood is the home of the London Irish rugby team, so the facilities were fab - toilets near the start, big screen TV showing the Ireland v. Japan rugby match, but I hadn't done my homework (it has been a pretty full on week) and had not done any research, so pitched up in road shoes for a course that was almost entirely on grass.  As it would be around rugby pitches!

The run director gave a great run brief before we walked to the start.  The course is one short lap followed by two long laps.  It is almost pancake flat and could be a very fast course, were it not for the incompatibility of road shoes and grass and the huge headwind on the second lap - I went from 7.15min/mile pace to just over 8min/mile pace along that outward stretch!  JB, major surgery last week not withstanding, ran on ahead.  I assumed Husbando was also ahead, so was surprised when he caught me up at about 4k!  We ran the last k 'together' with him pulling ahead just before the end... but I wasn't having that and overtook him just before we entered the finish funnel!  I was a mere 9 seconds slower than my all time parkrun PB!

Coffee (and bacon rolls for some) in the club house afterwards completed the morning nicely.  The marshals and volunteers made us feel very welcome - so big thank you to them all!


  1. I quite fancy joining your sister for a day if you think she'd appreciate it?

  2. Great blog! I am also proud of my daughter Rachel. I'm proud of you too for supporting her in this way. I do hope she gains more support on the way. Nom and I are trying to get to meet up with her one evening.