Ex-Thomas Cook bosses raise £160,000 to help former employees in their hour of need

Former bosses at Thomas Cook who were left heartbroken when the iconic firm collapsed leaving thousands of families desperate for help have raised more than £160,000 to help ex-workers in their hour of need.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 6:00 am
John McEwan (left) and John Donaldson (right)

Hundreds of families across Peterborough were left in crisis when the travel giant went out of business earlier this year. The firm’s headquarters were in Peterborough, and more than 1,200 people in the city – and thousands more across the country– were employed by the firm.

While some have found employment, a majority have not. Now former CEO John Donaldson, and ex-UK managing director John McEwan have launched a fundraising campaign to support their former employees.

The pair, who worked for the firm in the 1980s and 1990s, originally aimed to raise £100,000, but after smashing that target after just five weeks, they are now hoping to raise £200,000.

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The pair are working with travel charity Abta Lifeline to ensure as many people can benefit from the fund as possible – with more than 900 already given assistance.

Mr McEwan, who held a number of senior management position between 1984 and 2000 and still lives in Peterborough, said: “While some former workers have got work, a majority have not, and there is a clear need for help, especially with Christmas round the corner. We know that for some families, both of the breadwinners worked for Thomas Cook and they have been put under real pressure.

“Through Abta, we have had more than 900 people helped by the fund. For some it is help with the shopping, but for others it is help with the rent or mortgage payments.”

The money has been raised on the Just Giving page, and through Mr McEwan and Mr Donaldson’s contacts.

Mr McEwan said: “We have had some incredibly generous donations from many people. They have included large amounts of money, but also former Thomas Cook employees themselves have donated, like £20 or £50, because they want to help their former colleagues.

“It was an iconic brand, the most well known travel brand in the world. It didn’t seem plausible that it would end.

“When I heard, I felt extremely sad for everyone involved, but also frustrated and a degree of anger that it was allowed to get to this point.”

Mr Donaldson said: “We have been overwhelmed with the level of support from those we have spoken to both in the UK and overseas. There is huge affection for Thomas Cook and it has played a key role in so many careers over the years that many of those we have spoken to have been very happy to contribute. The monies donated have ranged from small donations to significant sums, and we are grateful for every penny.”

To donate to the campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/travel-industry-leaders-support-thomas-cookFor information about Abta Lifeline, or how to apply for funds if you are a former employee, visit https://www.abtalifeline.org.uk/