Meet the team

Alison Ford

Background Information

I started my career in travel some 30 years ago quite by accident, but found I loved it and I’ve done almost every aspect of the job from resort representative, office management, TV interviews and Tour management. I have been with Thomas Cook almost 7 years and specialise in the Latin American Tours.

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Favourite TC Tour

Although I love all the Latin American Tours my favourite is the Lost World of the Incas. It is such a varied tour from the coast to the Andes, and the Peruvians are fascinating and friendly – and I never get bored with it.  Machu Picchu in the sun is outstanding but even in the cloud it is still very majestic.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Three things that I always take with me on all my tours are, my travel kettle, T bags and ginger biscuits!! Although a lot of hotels do have coffee making machines in the rooms now, I like my tea first thing in the morning.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

My top tip for customers going on any Thomas Cook Tour is to find out where the tour is going and what it covers and to read the information booklet – especially the ‘useful information’ part at the back.

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“The memories, photos and new friends one finds on tour are not just for holidays, but for life.”

 

Yasser Kamel

Background Information

I have worked with Thomas Cook Tours for more than 11 years and have 18 years of experience with ancient monuments and sightseeing. I am a qualified Tour Guide with a degree in Egyptology and the author of a published Egyptology book.

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Favourite TC Tour

It has to be The Golden Nile.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

A hat is a necessity in Egypt, I also take a torch and a pair of comfy shoes.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Thomas Cook Tours is ideal for a customer who would like to worry less about travel procedures, enjoy a hassle free holiday and wants to experience different cultural aspects.

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“The Golden Nile is a dream of ancient Egypt which has the magic of the Sahara golden sands, the greenery of the Nile and the splendid approach of Abu Simble temples.”

 

Frank O’Boyle

Background Information

I became a Tour Manager four years ago after an Industry career within the UK and Ireland . I had travelled extensively during those years and became familiar with both European and Long Haul travel and I felt that I wanted to continue to travel but this time to share my experiences with clients. I have the best job in the world and every day I remind myself of that. I am honoured to look after our clients on what is the holiday of a lifetime for so many.

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Favourite TC Tour

My favourite holiday and destination is China – all the Thomas Cook Tours to China.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Additional information that clients might find useful on the tour – Chinese lessons each day ( with an Irish accent !) or maps. Places which might be of interest to clients with specific interests -like music, local cuisine or art galleries. With so many gadgets nowadays I always try to bring all the batteries and adaptors I need for cameras or computers, phones or Ipods.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Relax and enjoy your holiday -I will do all the worrying for you -that’s why I am here.

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“China is the most amazing country -as a world leader China is full of history, culture, wonderful people and fantastic scenery -I promise nobody will be disappointed  -a lifetime experience not to be missed!”

 

Aideen Higgins

Background Information

My years in the hospitality industry, in hotel and restaurant management have given me a great insight into making sure that issues , however great or small are resolved to the clients satisfaction . I enjoy showing the clients the sights and the differences in cultures equating it to the first time I saw them and the wonder I felt at the amazing places we visit. A sense of humour coupled with precise research, hard work, and attention to detail are to me a winning combination for any tour manager.

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Favourite TC Tour

My favourite country and tour would have to be Canada – its diversification of scenery from the Rockies to the Columbia Icefields, from the mountains and lakes, its various cultures and languages all add to make this one an enchanting discovery.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

I never leave home without my small umbrella ( for both sun and rain), corn pads ( just in case), and a luxurious shower gel ( to pamper myself after a long day).

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Leave all worries at home and let your tour manager do any worrying for you.

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My favourite quote upon seeing the famous 4000ft Grouse Mountain- ” You can’t move the mountain, but the mountain will move you”

 

Joan Williams

Background Information

At 19 years of age having lost 3 very close family members in the space of 9 months my mum and I started a new life in Spain. Being surrounded by the ‘holiday atmosphere’ I started work training as an overseas resort representative. Always admiring the Thomas Cook team, believing they were the ‘creme de la creme’ I decided one day I would work for them. In 1978 I started work for Thomas Cook Holidays as Head Resort Representative in the Island of Madeira. In 1982 my boss suggested I would make a good Tour Manager and gave me the opportunity to live in California and train with the USA Tour Managers, but I actually covered many areas of the US. This year marks 30 years as a Tour Manager for Thomas Cook Tours and I love every minute as much as my first day!

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Favourite TC Tour

My favourite Tour is America’s Rockies and National Parks.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Evian spray – keeps my skin rehydrated on the plane and in hot climates. Spray starch, makes ironing my clothes on tour a doddle and keeps them crisp and fresher for longer and a kettle and Twinnings Everyday tea bags.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Read up on all the areas you’ll be covering on tour. It not only greatly adds to the anticipation and excitement beforehand but really helps with choosing the correct clothes for your tour.

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“America’s Rockies and National Parks is my favourite tour because it has everything, breath taking scenery, an abundance of wildlife, Native American culture and not forgetting the fascinating western cowboy culture.”

 

Ann Perry

Background Information

I have been a tour manager for about 25 years.  I started travelling soon after I left school and the travelling bug has never gone away!  I originally worked as a resort representative in both ski and summer resorts working in Italy, France, Switzerland and Greece. I have been lucky enough to have taken tours to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, most countries in South America, India, China, Far East and Russia and still look forward to places I have visited before and also going somewhere new.

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Favourite TC Tour

The Wonders of Australia. Also all tours to Canada as I enjoy both the East (cities) and West (scenery).

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Camera, my paperwork and enthusiasm!!

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Travel with a flexible, open mind. Enjoy the country you are visiting and it’s culture and don’t expect them all to be the same. Be ‘travellers’ not ‘tourists’  and you will benefit from the travelling experience.

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“Australia – such a great land of contrasts from the natural wonders of Ayers Rock & the Great Barrier Reef to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House”

 

Cheryl Wynne Eyton

Background Information

After some years working for Thomas Cook in a variety of roles, I first took a tour to Canada in 1987.  When not on tour, I worked in the then-named Faraway Holidays Department as a member of the support staff for Tour Operations.  A move to Egypt as an Operations Manager and then heading up Egypt’s Quality & Customer Service Dept, meant fewer tours for the coming 10 years although I did manage to undertake one or two a year to Canada.  After retiring from Thomas Cook Egypt in 2005, I have been a self-employed Tour Manager, specializing in Canada and latterly getting to know Russia.

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Favourite TC Tour

My favourite tour has to be the Rocky Mountain Ranger – a tour taking in some of the more remote parts of Western Canada using a variety of forms of transport including train, boat and coach, with a chance to whale watch and take a sea plane flight as optional extras.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Lots of reference books about the country and it’s environment. An umbrella for rain and shine and most importantly a small fan!

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Top tip for clients going on a Thomas Cook tour would be to get out and experience as much as possible, taking all the excursions on offer in order not to miss anything and to have a better chance of drinking in the atmosphere of the place.

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“The Rocky Mountains, at any time of year, are a wonderful sight.  Whether snow-capped or bare and uncovered, they have a majesty of their own not found anywhere else”.

 

Judith La Rocca

Background Information

Basically my love of travel started me off in the tourism industry.  Having worked in a discothèque in Spain, selling in the Netherlands, and taught English as a foreign language in Italy, I found a job as a Resort Representative in Romania when it was behind the Iron Curtain.  I then worked in various destinations progressing from Resort Representative, to Head Representative and Area Manager, including some seasons for Thomas Cook Holidays as Head Representative in Sorrento, and Area Manager for the Winter Sports programme based in Crans Montana, Switzerland, and covering Switzerland, France and Italy. I love introducing people to new places, and it was a natural progression that I became a Tour Manager. I  escorted my first tour to China in 1991, and haven’t looked back since!  I have been lucky enough to escort tours to destinations as varied as Australia, Zambia, Canada and Uzbekistan to name just a few.  I get great satisfaction from my job.

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Favourite TC Tour

Difficult to say – all so interesting, but Majestic Rockies and Alaska, Wonders of Australia, African Highlights and  Iconic Images of China are all up there!

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Alarm Clock, adaptors and a box of All-Bran.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Always leave some space in your suitcase for that purchase you just can’t resist whilst abroad!

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African Highlights – “Enjoying the stunning views of Table Mountain, watching a tiny baby elephant dwarfed by its huge mother in Chobe National Park, and seeing the mighty Zambezi River  turn a burnished pinky gold at sunset, with the roar of the Victoria Falls just a few hundred yards away.  What memories!”

 

Lydia Boyd

Background Information

I have worked in travel for 25 years and escorted groups all over the world. The largest group I have ever escorted is 3000 boy scouts to Thailand for their Jamboree. I love escorting groups because of the different people I meet and I believe that travel is a wonderful way to experience other cultures.

Favourite TC Tour

West Coast Highlights – The contrasts of of scenery on this tour are fabulous. From stepping back in time on the Queen Mary to the vibrant nightlife in Las Vegas, the beautiful city of San Francisco, to the stunning scenery on Route 66.

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3 Things you always take with you on a tour

Comfortable shoes, sun cream & a rain coat.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

Always take a photocopy or scanned copy of you passport, incase you lose your original.

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“The memories you have after a wonderful holiday will be with you for a lifetime”.

Phil Dargan

Background Information

I live near the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon which is well known throughout the world as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. I started my career at BT in the early 80’s and spent many happy & successful years in the industry which allowed myself and my family to holiday in wonderful destinations all over the world including Europe, South America, the Far East and Australia & New Zealand. With a desire to work within an industry that would really light my fire I left BT in 2004 and opened my own travel agency in Stratford upon Avon. Having spent six happy and successful years as an agent I was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity in 2010 when I was invited to join the crew of the Queen Mary Two, managing the on board sales and Cunard World Loyalty Programme. I travelled all over the world during this time and spent my days off escorting day excursions for the passengers when in port. Although I had a fantastic time on board the QM2 I knew as a family man it could not be a long term career for me so equipped with my extensive travel experience, my love of people and the amount of job satisfaction obtained from seeing people having the time of their lives I decided to join Thomas Cook Tours as a Tour Manager. Thomas Cook Tours was the first tour operator that I approached after making this decision as the Thomas Cook brand with its expertise, quality and longevity seemed the obvious choice.

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Favourite TC Tour

America’s Deep South & Cajun Country tour, this is a must for music lovers. The tour includes three great destinations and their musical heritage, Nashville for Country & Western, Memphis for Elvis and New Orleans for Jazz! Although there is so much to see and enjoy on this tour you do not have to be a music buff to get the most out of seeing the fascinating southern states, their history and way of life. The tour begins in Atlanta with a city tour visiting the home of Dr Martin Luther King & his grave at the Civil Rights Centre, a tour of the famous CNN studios and the home of 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. This is a great first day of the tour although full of mixed emotions a great insight into the life of one man who had a dream and changed the world!  On our way to Nashville we break our journey calling into Chattanooga, Rock City Gardens and the Jack Daniels Distillery. A trip to the Grand Ole Opry is the thing to do whilst in Nashville as is a visit to The Country Hall of Fame & Studio B, all of these are thoroughly enjoyable, especially being able to have pictures taken sitting at Elvis’s grand piano in his favourite recording studio. On our last day of the tour we call into Mamma Redell’s for a cookery class of local delicacies including gumbo soup and jambalaya with chicken and smoked sausage. It was not only the delicious food that was the highlight of this lunch but Mamma Redell herself such a warm friendly and welcoming person.

3 Things you always take with you on a tour

An umbrella, you just never know when to expect a down pour, Insect repellent and a good sense of humour – you can’t beat a good laugh.

Your top tip for customers going on a TCT

My top tip for anyone going on a Thomas Cook tour is to do some homework prior to your tour as this will contribute to your overall experience. Thomas Cook have got the mix just right travelling times, sight-seeing and optional excursions as well as a generous amount of time built into any tour to allow you to do as you please. Now some people may just take advantage of this time to chill and relax but others find this their time to explore under their own steam. Passengers who do a little investigation prior to their holiday are a little better equipped to make the most of their time in the destination. For example a couple on a recent tour that included New Orleans had come prepared with a list of restaurants that had either been recommended by friends and family or they had found on the internet. Each day they would try a restaurant for lunch and dinner from there prepared list and were not disappointed in fact this actually added greatly to their overall enjoyment of the whole tour!

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“Visiting the home of Dr Martin Luther King & his grave at the Civil Rights Centre is a great if emotional first day of the America’s Deep South & Cajun Country tour, and is a great insight into the life of one man who had a dream and changed the world!”