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10 May 2018

BY James Chapple

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Industry rallies round travel couple seriously hurt in Thailand crash

The family of a travel agent involved in a head-on collision with a lorry days after arriving in Thailand has launched a fundraising campaign to pay her medical costs and bring her home after finding out her travel insurance did not adequately cover her ordeal.

Abbie Sontag Pete Brudenell.jpg
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Industry rallies round travel couple seriously hurt in Thailand crash

Abbie Sontag, 28, who works for Kenwood Travel in Harlow, was travelling with her partner Pete Brudenell, head of marketing at Kenwood, from Phuket to Khao Lak in a local taxi when their car was struck by the truck, leaving her with catastrophic injuries.


The couple were taken to Phuket Hospital where it was established Abbie suffered three broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and bowel, and a break in her spine, all of which requires surgery. Her partner Pete was also severely hurt and is also recovering in hospital.


Abbie’s family, her mum, step-dad and sister, took the first flight to the hospital the following day (May 8) and remain at her bedside.


However, it was there they discovered Abbie’s travel insurance - with her bank - would not cover her treatment. They have since set up a GoFundMe page, which by 9am on Thursday (May 10) had already raised the best part of £20,000 of its £35,000 target.


Describing her as the “most positive beam of life to cross anyone’s path”, the family have appealed for donations to assist them with the costs, with Abbie expected to require further surgery on her back.


“When [we] arrived, [we] made the discovery Abbie doesn’t have any travel insurance and will not be covered for any of the operations she has had and the operation that is due,” said her family on the fundraising page. “She believed she had travel insurance with her bank, but she doesn’t.


“This is where our call for help comes in. This doesn’t deserve to happen to anyone, and for us, especially our sweet, caring, positive, brave and courageous Abbie.


“Please can we ask for anyone to make a donation towards her surgery, it doesn’t matter how big or small, we just need to get her well and home. If 3,500 people, just a tiny fraction of the population, donated just £10, we would have reach our goal to help Abbie. That’s a pack of cigarettes, not even 2 pints of beer in London, and the takeaway you was going to have tonight.


“We are greatly thankful for all the kind souls in word and thankful to have Abbie and Pete with us today.”


Hundreds have already backed the campaign, and the travel industry has also rallied behind Abbie’s cause.


Posting to the Travel Gossip Facebook page, Hayley Attwood of Affordable Car Hire wrote: “A fellow travel colleague and friend from Kenwood Travel is in need of major assistance and our help. Please take the time to read her story and donate if you can to ensure she gets the treatment needed.”


On the fundraising page, Katie Moore from Trailfinders said: “So sorry to hear about this sad news. I hope you get better soon Abbie and return home safely. Thinking of you and your boyfriend at this horrific time.”


You can find out more about the fundraising campaign here and make a donation.


News of Abbie and Pete’s ordeal comes just days after Abta warned millions of Britons were still travelling without adequate insurance.


The association said some 38% of Britons (9.9 million) who travelled overseas in the past 12 months have done so with the proper cover, took part in activities that may not be covered, or with no cover at all.


Abta also found one in seven (15%) travelled believing they were insured through their bank.

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