A fundraising campaign, set up by former Thomas Cook bosses John Donaldson and John McEwan, has raised more than £160,000 in just five weeks for staff affected by the operator’s tragic collapse.
The campaign was launched on 15 October, with the pair – who led the company in the 1980s – pledging to use the former Cook network and their industry-wide contacts to help out the 9,000 Cook staff hit by the firm’s failure in September.
Abta’s LifeLine charity is administering the appeal, with the charity having already received a further “six-figure sum” in direct donations since Cook went under.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the level of support from those we have spoken to both in the UK and overseas,” said Donaldson. “There is huge affection for Thomas Cook and it has played a key role in so many careers over the years.
“The monies have ranged from small donations to significant sums, and we are grateful for every penny.”
Donaldson said a significant number of former Cook management staff had donated to the appeal, while some members of staff who lost their jobs in September have also pledged small amounts.
“We can’t forget that many of the 9,000 people who lost their jobs didn’t get their pay packet at the end of September, and many are still awaiting statutory redundancy pay,” said Donaldson. “These funds have therefore been much-needed.”
While Donaldson declined to be drawn on the largest donors, he said he was “disappointed” by the response to the campaign from the chairman and non-executive directors of the most recent Thomas Cook shareholder board.
McEwan, meanwhile, revealed the funds had so far helped 900 individuals and families, demonstrating the “real need” for financial assistance for those who have been impacted by Cook’s failure.
“Many of those who have applied for funding have received help in the form of food shopping vouchers, but larger amounts have also been paid out to help those struggling to pay rents, mortgage payments and other living expenses,” he said.
McEwan added that while a number of Cook retail staff had been re-employed by Hays Travel, there remained thousands out of work in the Manchester area where Thomas Cook Airlines was based, and in Peterborough where Cook’s UK headquarters was located.
He said in the lead-up to Christmas, he expected the number of applicants to increase. “John and I will continue to seek funding as we expect help will be much-needed over the Christmas period,” said McEwan. “Our thoughts are with all those that remain unemployed and they have our assurance we will continue to help wherever we can.”
Anyone wishing to donate should visit Donaldson and McEwan’s fundraising page.