Travel agent tells of ‘heroic’ rescue of young family from ‘living hell’ in Rhodes

Rhodes family rescue
By Linsey McNeill
25/07/2023
Home » Travel agent tells of ‘heroic’ rescue of young family from ‘living hell’ in Rhodes

Meon Valley Travel has told how they managed to rescue a family who had to flee barefoot from the Princess Andriana hotel in Rhodes with the help of several local ‘heroes’.

Director of Operations Karen Beagrie told Travel Gossip that Jack, Emily and their nine-year-old autistic daughter Macey, were told by the army to run from the hotel in Kiotari on Saturday due to fears it would be engulfed by wildfire.

They fled on foot, dragging their cases. Emily said in a recording sent to a journalist: “We were told to run south and not stop. We could see the flames. They were literally on our back. Locals gave us COVID masks to help us.

“We got to the beach, left our cases, there was no way we could drag them, and started running.”

A boat was sent to pick up tourists, but Emily said there were ‘more than a thousand people’ trying to cram on. “They said women and children first, but men were dragging them off saying they didn’t want to die either, so we decided not to get on.”

They walked, Emily barefoot, for 15 hours, passing locals who handed out water. Eventually they were picked up by a local with a truck and taken to a TUI hotel, but they were told there were no spare beds, so they were forced to spend the night outside, sleeping on sunlounges.

“This was at the very start of the crisis, we weren’t really aware of what was happening until the family called us early the next morning,” said Karen. “We tried to get them a local taxi, but it was impossible, and there were no buses, no coaches, nothing.

“We racked our brains and contacted a hotel in the north, Grecotel LUX ME Dama Dama in Faliraki, where we know one of the reps, Claire Griffiths, to see if she knew anyone locally who could pick them up.

“She didn’t, but she held a room for our clients in case they could get there.”

Karen and Meon Valley MD James Beagrie then called everyone they could think of, local hostels, local businesses, to see if anyone could drive the family north to the hotel, till someone suggested the best way would be to take the family by boat.

“We called the boat operators, but no luck, then we found Michael at Lindos Watersports who said if he could get permission from the port police he would take them by speedboat to Faliraki.”

Initially the police gave Michael permission so he took his speedboat to pick the family up from the beach, but he was later stopped by the port authorities due to the severity of the wind. However, he waited till the wind died down and as soon as it was safe, they set off for Faliraki.

Michael even arranged for a friend of his with another boat to take a second family who had met up with Jack and Emily to safety.

What Michael didn’t tell Karen and James at the time was that he and his wife and child had had to flee from their own home, which had been damaged by the fire.

“As the speedboat took our guests to safety, they waved to his family who were sitting on the beach,” said Karen. “Emily told us it was like going from living hell to heaven.”

Once he had deposited them safely, Michael returned to collect their bags from where they’d abandoned them.

“If anyone is going to Rhodes, they should support his business, Lindos Watersports, he is a real hero,” said Karen.

Meon Valley had arranged for a taxi to meet Jack, Emily and Macey at the boat and take them to safety at the Dama Dama.

“Meon Valley were amazing, life savers. They worked through the night trying to make arrangements. Whatever time we contacted them, they were awake, working, trying to help us. The were unbelievable,” said Jack in the recording.

He, Emily and Macey arrived safely back in the UK this morning, on a Jet2 flight.

“They got back in the early hours and we’re really thrilled they’re home safe,” said Hampshire-based Karen. “There are so many heroes in this story, Micheal, Claire, the locals, they were all brilliant.”

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