20th Jan, 2018

Coventry family's summer holiday saved thanks to 'one of a kind' Birmingham Airport worker

Coventry Editorial 22nd Jul, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A COVENTRY family struck by cancer who thought their summer holiday plans were doomed are enjoying fun in the sun thanks to a ‘one of a kind’ Birmingham Airport employee who came to their rescue when their chicken pox-suffering boy was kicked off a plane.

Zita Small went ‘above and beyond’ when she lent a helping hand to the Doyle family, who were left stranded at the airport after being kicked off their flight to Portugal.

The Wyken family had been sat on-board the plane when they were told to disembark because the youngest Doyle – two-year-old Jack – had chicken pox.

Despite having the medical all-clear from family’s doctor, there had been a miscommunication that meant Jack was not deemed fit to fly on board.

“Heart broken wasn’t the word,” 29-year-old mum Carrie Doyle said.

“We of course understood that the air hostess was just following the rules and we appreciated it was for the safety and care for other passengers.

“But we were just devastated – especially as we had already cancelled our first flight because of Jack’s chicken pox.

“When I had to tell my five-year-old daughter Ruby to get off the plane she was so confused and upset to be told that we weren’t going on holiday again.”

The Doyle family: Paddy, Jack, Carrie and Ruby.

But the holiday was more than just a summer break for the family.

With 31-year-old dad Paddy currently undergoing an intense course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Carrie said the holiday was the family’s well-earned break for ‘a little normality.’

Upset and disheartened, the family were waiting at the customer service check out for their luggage to be taken off the plane when Ms Small walked passed and noticed Carrie consoling Jack.

Explaining what happened to Swissport worker Ms Small, Carrie broke down into tears – her story resonating with Ms Small whose husband had died a few months earlier.

Ms Small then left the family and returned 10 minutes later to say she had booked the Doyle family on the next flight to Portugal at 6am the following morning and upgraded them to first class at no extra cost.

She even drove the family from the airport back to Forum Health Centre in Coventry to get a fit for fly letter from their GP – despite her shift finishing 45 minutes earlier.

Carrie added: “Zita is an incredible lady who didn’t have to do all that she did for us.

“She went completely out of her way to help us with not benefit to her whatsoever.

“It’s because of her we got to go on our family holiday.”

Carrie posted the story on Facebook and encouraged friends and family to make the post go ‘viral’ as a way of showing her thanks to Zita.

Within days, her posts had been shared more than 50,000 times and Zita was thanked and presented with a bouquet of flowers by Birmingham Airport chief executive, Paul Kehoe.

Zita Small being congratulated for her selfless-efforts.

Praising Zita for her ‘great initiative and intuition’ in helping the Doyle family, Mr Kehoe said: “We are proud to have such a diligent, hardworking and sensitive employee working here at Birmingham Airport for our partner Swissport.

“She is a credit to Birmingham Airport.”

Now enjoying the Portugese sunshine, Carrie has spoken to Zita every day, and has already invited her for a Sunday roast when the family return from the Portuguese sunshine.

The Doyle family enjoying their holiday in Portugal.


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