The Brett family has been selling travel at the heart of their South Shields community for more than three decades.
After leaving careers in insurance, Graeme and his wife, Joan, began offering London coach trips at his parent’s newsagents in Westoe Road and built the business into a booming short-break and long-haul specialist.
The pair celebrated 30 years in the industry in January, which was also Westoe’s best month on record, providing extra cause for merriment.
To say the agency has a family feel would be an understatement. Gillian and Martin have worked for mum and dad since they were teenagers, while Alice (although not a Brett herself) joined as an apprentice more than seven years ago and is very much part of the clan.
The team look after customers as well as they would family too, from getting up at 4am to ensure the right seats are secured for a family with an autistic child, to staying beyond midnight to rebook customers affected by a raft of Lapland holiday cancellations.
Last year, the team even arranged for a customer’s driver’s licence to be shipped out to Australia in time for their fly-drive holiday after they realised (in Singapore) it had been left on Tyneside.
Simpler touches such a providing London Underground maps and writing Harry Potter and Disney-themed letters for kids to make their days even more magical have also helped to forge the agency’s reputation for impeccable customer service.
The agency’s support of community teams and groups is unwavering: if it’s local and can be sponsored, you’ll likely see the Westoe name proudly emblazoned somewhere.
Nowhere has the business’s drive to help been clearer than through its support of the Chloe & Liam Together Forever Trust.
Graeme has dedicated himself and his team to helping found, organise, fundraise for and promote the charity, in memory of Westoe’s much-loved apprentice Chloe Rutherford and her boyfriend, Liam Curry, who died in the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017.
As a trustee, Graeme loves his current role as treasurer: “I get the nice job of writing the cheques,” he says. And he’s been busy, with the trust raising nearly £300,000 and already paying out more than £100,000 to help young people follow their dreams in sport and performance.