25th Oct, 2016

'One of a kind' Birmingham Airport worker saves cancer-stricken family's holiday

Solihull Editorial 28th Jul, 2016 Updated: 14 hours ago

A ‘ONE of a kind’ Birmingham Airport employee, who helped a family struck by cancer reach their destination when their summer holiday plans looked doomed when their chicken pox-suffering boy was kicked off a plane, has been praised for her initiative and generosity.

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 Coventry family had been sat on-board the plane ready for their summer holiday when they were told they had to put their plans on hold and disembark the plane 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.

“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.”

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 for break ‘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 Zita 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 Zita whose husband had died a few months earlier.

Ms Small then left the family, returning ten minutes later saying 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.

‘One of a kind’ Zita helped make five-year-old Ruby’s holiday dream a reality.‘One of a kind’ Zita helped make five-year-old Ruby’s holiday dream a reality.

She even drove the family from Birmingham 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 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, because without her, it wouldn’t have been possible.”

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.

And within a matter of 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 CEO, Paul Kehoe.

Zita Small with Birmingham Airport CEO, Paul Kehoe. sZita Small with Birmingham Airport CEO, Paul Kehoe. s

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.

“The airport prides itself with great customer service and here we have Zita carrying out her day to day role with efficiency and compassion.

“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.