Shona Lyons of Crusader Travel in Twickenham, who had already launched her own charitable campaign, said she decided to team up with Sunvil after reading in TTG about the company’s attempt to use its planes to bring the refugees to Britain.
“I contacted Noel [Josephides, Sunvil chairman] because we work quite a lot with them. We said ‘well, if you can’t bring them back in on your flight we can always do a collection for you’ because we’ve been inundated and we know that there’s a huge amount of people out there who want to help and all they’re looking for is how they can help.”
Lyons is now seeking “good-quality” donations, including tents, trainers and rucksacks, for a flight to Samos on October 1.
Donations are being accepted this Friday and Saturday. She is also hoping that other travel companies are inspired to conduct their own fundraising efforts.
“There must be ways the travel industry can help. We’ve got the skills, we understand how to move people around; some of the tour operators fly regularly to these places, they must have empty legs or excess luggage space.”
Lyons has already conducted two separate fundraising collections and last week filled about 10 cars and vans with warm clothes, tents and sleeping bags for Calais.
Josephides said the decision was “a reaction from the heart”. “We’re doing it because of an impulse to help,” he told TTG. “As far as we’re concerned we’ve got to help and that’s all there is to it.”
The Germania plane will fly to Samos carrying only supplies, and no passengers except for Sunvil’s managing director Chris Wright. It will then return with Sunvil passengers.
“It’s something you can’t turn your back on, and it’s the right thing to do,” Wright said.