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Holiday firm PGL leaves Inverness primary kids at Kinmylies distraught after cancelling their residential activity trip at Dalguise, Perthshire, at just a few days' notice

By Alasdair Fraser

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Kinmylies Primary School. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Kinmylies Primary School. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Kids at an Inverness primary school were left devastated after a big holiday firm pulled the plug on their residential break at only a few days’ notice.

Two classes of Kinmylies primary seven children were set to leave today for a five-day Perthshire adventure trip run by the company PGL.

Parents and guardians had already paid the £400-plus fee up front, while the 45 children had spent months saving up pocket money, buying kit and growing excited about the activity stay.

After being told of the problem only late last week, headteacher Faye Lingard was forced to inform the heartbroken youngsters, some in tears, that PGL had cancelled the trip blaming staff shortages.

In October 2020, the firm slashed their workforce by a quarter, laying off 670 employees.

A letter emailed to parents from the headteacher read: “I have just received the very disappointing news that PGL have had to cancel next week’s trip to Dalguise.

“They have said that this is due to unforeseen staffing issues - both COVID and other illnesses.

“I have voiced my displeasure at the short notice and I am sure you are extremely unhappy

about this too. I have also asked them to write a letter of explanation to all parents and this will be with you shortly.”

The company has offered parents a full refund plus £50 compensation towards items bought for the trip, while the school is busy trying to arrange alternative activities.

Parents were furious with PGL, however, given the lack of previous warning they were encountering difficulties

One of the parents, who did not wish to be named, summed up the dismay and anger.

She said: “It is just heartbreaking for the young folk.

“For PGL to suddenly announce they do not have enough staff for the trip, three or four days before they set off, is just awful.

“The youngsters have been planning for it for months and growing more and more excited as it grew closer.

“They have offered a refund and compensation, but it is not really about the money. Everyone is devastated.

“My young one put on a brave face at school, but was in floods of tears at home.

“It was another child's birthday and all their presents had been bought for the trip. It just broke their hearts.

“There were kids crying at school as well and I know the staff and headteacher were very upset too.

“Even if they had given us a week, we might have been able to rearrange something.”

A spokeswoman for PGL said: “We apologise unreservedly and are devastated at having to make the difficult and exceptional decision to cancel a school trip at late notice.

“As is the case with many hospitality businesses across the UK, we’re grappling hard with complex recruitment and higher than usual levels of employee sickness.

“Despite the intensity of our efforts and careful planning, this has made operational delivery very difficult next week.

“We fully accept that these are our challenges to overcome and are deeply disappointed that we haven’t managed to, in this instance.

“We are, of course, providing a full refund to the school and working with them to look at alternative dates and locations for a trip before the end of the school year.

“If an alternative date is not a viable option for the school, we will offer pupils the opportunity to experience a PGL Adventure Holiday during the summer break, free of charge.

“We recognise that this does not make up for the disappointment as regards next week but hope as many children as possible will still be able to enjoy an outdoor activity experience.”

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