Wigan nurses return home after being stranded in Cambodia

Wigan nurses who were left stranded abroad when the Coronavirus grounded all homeward bound flights, have now safely returned to the UK.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 12:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 3:34 pm
L-R: Anna, Diane, Valerie and Elaine

A pair of Wigan nurses have finally returned to the UK from Cambodia after being stranded there following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Elaine Morley and Diane Tomlinson, from Appley Bridge and Wigan respectively, were enjoying the trip of a lifetime with colleagues Val Travis and Anna Williams, travelling across Asia since the start of the month.

The group, who work at Winwick Hospital, were due to return home on March 23, until the Covid-19 pandemic grounded flights out of Cambodia to Britain. All further attempts to get home had been unsuccessful, with flight after flight cancelled. They had no idea when they would be able to return home and found themselves quickly running out of cash.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But on Tuesday evening, after maxing out credit cards and spending thousands of pounds on cancelled plane tickets, Elaine and Diane finally returned safely to the UK after an arduous journey home, first flying to Doha in Qatar and then onwards to Britain. They travelled home separately from friends Val and Anna, who are both from Broadgreen, Liverpool. The latter duo bagged the last two seats on a Qatar Airways flight, and were also due to arrive home yesterday morning.

Elaine said: “We left the UK on March 1, starting off in Vietnam. Before we left, we were told everything was fine, we could still come and there was nothing stopping us. We asked the travel agents and insurance company, everything, they said it was fine to still go, so of course we did.

“We had 12 nights in Vietnam, then moved onto Cambodia, travelling around for two to three nights in various places.”

The group were due to return home on an Emirates flight on Monday March 23, but their flight had been cancelled. Frantic efforts to contact the airline were unsuccessful.

After speaking to the British Embassy, they each paid £900 to book their seats on the plane, but within half an hour the booking was cancelled, and they were told it could be up to six weeks before they were refunded.

A Foreign Office spokesperson, said: “We recognize British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice."

A message from the Editorial Director, Gillian Parkinson:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy when you pop out for your essential shop or subscribing for delivery.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: "Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role."

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE:

You can subscribe for delivery by contacting us at [email protected] or calling us on 0330 4033004 for details of a participating newsagent near you.