Ian's Story: Making the Impossible Possible!
Once again we are happy to hear back from our customer that had a great time on holiday with support of our care assistants.This is Ian's story in his own words;
I met this friend on a cruise about four years ago. Since then we have sort of kept in touch. Our great bond is love of opera and classical music. Evelyn is getting on in years and cannot travel very well. I have recently been diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Evelyn lives in Nottingham and I live in Northumberland.
We had this dream. We wanted to visit Austria - especially Vienna - to experience opera and music there. It would be the ultimate experience.
Nah.....can't be done. However, I dropped Sue Fender - my care manager at Bluebird Care - a line, asking about this possibility. I expected nothing to come of it.
Then Sue answered. 'I can drive down and bring Evelyn back to your place. You can fly from Newcastle Airport'.
'We would need carers to go with us on the holiday'
'I can get them for you'.
Oh - right. Even then, I hardly dared hope. I contacted Carl of C&H Holidays. 'Do you know of a hotel that has facilities for the Disabled?'. I half expected a 'no'. Oh - OK. Flights? The company had a travel counselling service which could help in this. Carl answered 'there is a hotel near Baden which has a room with such facilities'.
Oh - right.
I fancied Baden, which I am told is a pleasant little town, quite near Vienna. I contacted Carl of C&H Holidays. 'Do you know of a hotel in Baden which has facilities for the disabled?'. I half expected a 'no'.
Carl answered: 'yes, there is a hotel which has a room with facilities for the disabled. Also there is a twin bedded room available for the carers'.
Flights? The holiday company has a travel counselling service which arranges them. Carl asked for their help. They came back. 'Flights can be co-ordinated with the hotel stay'
Wheelchair assistance during both legs of the journey and at the changeover at Amsterdam? 'That has all been arranged?'
Would everything work? I thought of the 1001 potential pitfalls.
But the hell with it! It's now or never. With my heart in my mouth, I booked the holiday.
Then a cruel twist of fate intervened. On the departure day we arrived at the Newcastle Airport check-in only to be advised not to go on the pre-booked flight, because of the atrocious weather at Amsterdam. They could not guarantee a connecting flight to Vienna, especially a flight with Wheelchair assistance. Feeling very dejected, the four of us returned home.
This was the low point. Our dreams were shattered. It was as if some evil gremlin had purposely put a spanner in the works. I phoned Carl to tell him the bad news.
I really feel that I would have given up had it not been for Sue's intervention. Next day, she drove over to my place in her slippers. It was a Sunday - normally her day off. She brought her grandson over, who was visiting her that day. She contacted the airport, she contacted the travel counsellor and she contacted Carl. Could the flights be rescheduled? She determined that we would pay no extra if they were.
'Please see what you can do', she pleaded with the travel counsellor.
'Please try and arrange different hotel dates', she asked Carl.
After Sue had left, I somehow felt revitalised.
That following day I got a call from Carl. 'We can offer you new flights next week. But the trouble is that you would have to pay for your hotel stay all over again'. I demurred.
That's a bit too much extra to pay', I said. I would soon have no money left, if I continued at that rate!
It was a reluctant decision. Was it the right one? The holiday's gone now anyway. All I can do is to try and cut my losses.
Then - unexpectedly - the travel counsellor phoned again. She had been in contact with Carl. 'I have outbound and return flights available', she said. It goes out tomorrow. The return flight is on Saturday. I need to know this morning if you want to go, as there are only four places left on the return flight'.
I already knew from Carl that our hotel stay could be adjusted to accommodate the flights. A little extra would have to be paid for the hotel, also the original holiday would be cut by one day. But the concert in Vienna would still stand.
'I'll take that option' I said, 'we'll go'.
I relayed my decision to Carl, then to Sue.
'Yes!!!!'. I later learned that Sue had literally danced around the office, when she got this message.
So we went.
It turned out to be a marvellous holiday. The wheelchair assistance went smoothly - at all the airports. We actually attended three concerts. Besides the Vienna one, we went to an open air opera at Morbisch and to a concert in the Haydn Hall, in the Esterhazy Palace at Eisenstadt.
Carl with the help of his wife Helen, took the four of us to all the concerts. They also took us for a tour around Baden.
The coffee and the scrumptious cakes in Austria are things to die for. Also the food is second to none. In particular the various types of ham which were served at the hotel, were so tasty - that I forgot that I was vegetarian. Well....,I never signed a pledge!
Credit is due to all those who made the holiday possible for myself and Evelyn. The carers were excellent, in taking charge of our passports and in negotiating the various issues that inevitably happen at airports.
Carl and Helen were kindness itself, in making sure that all our needs were met. Also, sharing their knowledge of music and of places of interest in the area enhanced our enjoyment.
Finally, had it not been for ever-galvanising presence of Sue, the holiday would never have got off the ground.
Evelyn and myself had achieved the holiday of our dreams. We had visited the place where much of the world's great music originated. In particular we had been to the ultimate destination of concerts - the Golden Hall in Vienna.
Do you believe in miracles? They can happen. Dreams can come true.
The impossible can be made possible.