Widow takes daughter, 9, to spread dad’s ashes but gets very sick | Travel News | Travel

Widow takes daughter, 9, to spread dad’s ashes but gets very sick | Travel News | Travel

A devastated widow’s emotional voyage to scatter her beloved husband’s ashes on an idyllic island ended in absolute despair when she was hit by severe food poisoning. Sarah Tootell, originating from Bury and being a mother-of-one, was struck down after embarking on the TUI trip with nine year old daughter Halle, marking their first holiday since her partner died six years ago.

The pair were booked in to stay at the opulent five-star Riu Palace Santa Maria hotel in Cape Verde. But it became a living hell as 44-year-old Sarah fell gravely ill during their homeward flight on May 16, following a week-long stay.

“This was the first time I had travelled on my own with Halle and took a lot of courage to book in the first place,” she shared. “So I’m devastated by the way things have turned out.”

The vacation bliss that commenced on May 8 plunged into nightmare territory when airborne. Surges of fever, gut-wrenching vomiting, unbearable diarrhoea, and abdominal pain seized Sarah, ruining their retreat booked with TUI.

Her GP confirmed her fear, it was shigella, a bacterial infection typically contracted through contaminated food or water. 

Still staggered by lingering nausea and an aversion to food, Sarah recalled her uneasy feelings toward some meals, she explained: “My GP said it was likely something from the holiday but I couldn’t believe it when I got a call from public health who said I had tested positive for shigella.”

Sarah is one of 10 individuals currently taking legal action against the Riu Palace Santa Maria, following claims of over 300 food poisoning cases at the resort. Among them is Graham Lamont who suffered a dramatic weight loss after severe food poisoning during his family holiday in May, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The 59-year-old was celebrating his daughter’s academic milestone when he fell ill and has been receiving ongoing medical attention since. His wife, Josephine Black, aged 53, also became sick and is involved in the lawsuit.

She shared her concerns, saying: “We’ve both needed time off work, but as I have started to improve, Graham has continued to struggle with illness. The amount of weight he’s lost is such a big concern now and doctors have taken a number of blood tests to discover more about his illness.”

“This is the last thing you expect from a five-star holiday and we now wish we’d never been. We’ve spoken to others who fell ill at the same time and have seen terrible reports about this hotel since coming home. I just wish we’d seen some of these reviews before we left.”

Their solicitor, Jatinder Paul from Irwin Mitchell, voiced grave concerns: “It’s deeply concerning that we have been instructed to act year after year. Many of our clients have reported worryingly similar experiences and patterns that have left many of them seriously ill.”

He went on to say, “Our clients understandably have many questions of how they came to be so ill and why people are still being sent to the resort, when based on what we’re seeing, lessons don’t appear to have been learned from previous illness outbreaks among guests.”

A spokesperson for Riu, discussing the issue stated: “For RIU Hotels and Resorts the health and safety of our guests is our main priority and this is why we strictly fulfil all the regulations regarding this matter in all our destinations and hotels. During the summer of 2022 the Riu Palace Santa Maria hotel averaged over an 80 per cent occupancy rate.”

“Throughout that period our Medical Services made internal analysis and activated all the pertinent protocols and nevertheless no significant amount of cases of guests that felt unwell were detected. Furthermore, exhaustive controls are conducted periodically, both internal and externally.”

TUI has not yet responded to requests for comment.

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