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Deal daughter caught life threatening virus on Thomas Cook holiday to Turkey

By Eleanor Perkins

A mum whose daughter caught a life-threatening virus while on a Thomas Cook holiday has slammed the travel firm who tried to convince her it had been picked up on a village tour.

Vicky Hall-Newman's holiday to Marmaris in Turkey ended in disaster when her nine-year-old daughter Tilly ended up in hospital - not once, but twice.

When the Superdrug worker and blogger alerted reps at the hotel, she was told that the vomiting illness must have been picked up during a village tour four days before.

The nine-year-old was put on a drip by doctors at Ahu Hastanesi Hospital in Turkey
The nine-year-old was put on a drip by doctors at Ahu Hastanesi Hospital in Turkey

But when she learned of other people falling ill at the SunConnect Grand Ideal Premium hotel - including a baby less than a year old - she was convinced they were wrong.

The single mum, 46, who lives in Deal had "saved hard" in order to pay for the 10-day break for her and her daughter, which had been organised through Thomas Cook.

She has criticised the firm for not providing her with better support or displaying warning signs to other holiday-makers around the hotel.

She would now like to be reimbursed for the holiday which she says was her daughter's only beach holiday of the year.

Tilly was admitted to a Turkish hospital twice during the 10-day holiday
Tilly was admitted to a Turkish hospital twice during the 10-day holiday

She told KentOnline: "It was a disaster zone. I've stayed in hotels all over the world and this is the first ever bad experience I've had.

"They had accused me of taking Tilly off-site and her being ill there when there was actually an illness in the hotel.

"One of the worst feelings was having to call my kids back home and letting them know their baby sister was in the hospital.

"You should have no worries when you're on holiday.

"When we left the hotel, I was so relieved to be going home.

"As soon as the wheels left the runway, I breathed a sigh of relief because the holiday from hell was over."

Tilly with her mum Vicky Hall-Newman on a boat trip before she fell ill again
Tilly with her mum Vicky Hall-Newman on a boat trip before she fell ill again

It was during the evening of May 6 this year, their sixth day, when Tilly fell ill with Rotavirus.

The highly-infectious disease can cause serious diarrhoea, vomiting and even death through severe dehydration.

Ms Hall-Newman, a mum of four who works as a cosmetics consultant at Superdrug in Folkestone, said: "She was tired so I took her for a sleep in the room.

"She was begging me to get a doctor. She said she had a tummy ache and was crawling all over the floor. She was in so much pain and she's rarely ill.

"I didn't have time to think I just tried to find a number to call down to reception.

"I was worried what would happen. I've never had a sick child abroad before."

Tilly was so sleepy at one point her mum didn't think she'd be able to wake her
Tilly was so sleepy at one point her mum didn't think she'd be able to wake her

The doctor arrived and advised that Tilly should be taken to nearby Ahu Hastanesi Hospital to be treated for dehydration.

She was transported via ambulance before being put on a drip by doctors who only spoke broken English, with no translator available.

Tilly was allowed home in the early hours of the morning and spent the following day in the hotel room.

One their eighth day the mother and daughter decided not to take a long boat trip to Rhodes as planned and paid for, but enjoy a smaller trip around the harbour.

During this excursion, Tilly was again sick prompting Ms Hall-Newman to return her daughter to the hotel clinic.

Ms Hall-Newman said: "She fell asleep at the hotel clinic. We got to hospital and she just laid down on the bed in A&E.

"I was struggling to wake her up. I was shaking her and calling her name.

"I was so scared for her and I actually thought at that moment that I was going to lose her."

Vicky Hall-Newman from Deal said her daughter Tilly is "rarely ill"
Vicky Hall-Newman from Deal said her daughter Tilly is "rarely ill"

While at the hospital, Ms Hall-Newman met another mum who had two children who had fallen ill with the virus. She had also spoken to another family back the hotel who reported similar symptoms.

She said: "I contacted the 24 hour Thomas Cook helpline, who told me to speak to the rep.

"The hotel rep was in complete denial and refused to listen that there was a problem.

"She admitted other people had been ill and said that three people in the hospital out of 500 was a good ratio.

"I was utterly shocked by her remark and pointed out that there should be no people in the hospital.

"I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. I had no support or back up from Thomas Cook in Turkey.

"My daughter is 27. She was ready to fly out to come and support me."

Tilly spent the last day of her Turkish beach holiday sleeping in a hotel room
Tilly spent the last day of her Turkish beach holiday sleeping in a hotel room

Tilly spent the night in hospital and was discharged on Friday morning - the last day of their holiday.

She slept in her hotel room until they left for the airport that evening.

The primary school pupil has since been given the all-clear by her GP in England but is still suffering with tiredness.

Ms Hall-Newman said: "I am so lucky that I went with my gut instinct all of the time and she is still with me. Being alone in a foreign country with a very sick child is so scary and it wasn't made any easier with Thomas Cook."

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We were very sorry to hear that Ms Hall-Newman’s daughter became ill while on holiday and that she did not feel supported by us.

"We take illness seriously and continually monitor all reported cases, including those which are viral.

"As soon as we receive the illness questionnaire that we have asked Ms Newman-Hall to complete we can review her case for her.”

For more real life stories, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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