Holiday from hell leaves boy with illness that could last a lifetime


A family returned from their vacation with more than just a tan after being struck down with Salmonella and poisoning. After a previously successful visit to the resort last year the Massey family returned to the Holiday Village Red Sea in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in February 2010. Nine months down the line and numerous doctor visits later, their son has been diagnosed with a disorder that could potentially follow him for his entire life.

Mark Massey visited the resort with his partner Tina and his son and daughter. They were struck down with the food poisoning bug three days into their holiday and 11 year-old Joshua was the worst hit. Mark said:

"We visited the same place last year and had a fantastic time so we had been looking forward to returning. But four days in my son Joshua began suffering from stomach cramps and diarrhoea."

"The representatives from First Choice were totally uninterested, in fact their attitude and behaviour was almost negligent. My son was clearly very unwell and all they could say was that it was because of the ‘change in temperature’."

"It was clear to us that he had some form of poisoning but they wouldn’t help at all. They just filled in some forms and said that we were free to complain when we got home."

"Upon returning to the UK Joshua was diagnosed with Salmonella and could only return to school weeks later. Since then he has suffered from stomach cramps and diarrhoea on an almost weekly basis. "

"We’ve been back and forth from the doctors with him since our return and after exhausting all tests he has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which he is now receiving medication for. He’s frail, nervous with his food and very shaky, definitely not the boy he used to be. It’s heartbreaking that a holiday could have caused all this stress."

Bad reviews have haunted the all-inclusive resort since it opened in July 2007. Billed by First Choice as ‘providing the whole holiday experience’, complaints about the resort appeared almost immediately after the opening because the resort was said to be unfinished, and food poisoning complaints have been commonplace ever since.

Mark has been pursuing a legal claim against First Choice since March 2010, and up to now they have refused to acknowledge fault.

Mark’s lawyer Nick Harris, Head of International Holiday Law at Simpson Millar LLP explains that this is not just a one-off incident:

"Mark’s case is not the first we have seen from this resort, and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. Since the beginning of the holiday season we have received in excess of 120 complaints from former guests – people are returning with very serious bacterial infections such as cryptosporidium and shigella. "

"We believe that even more people are suffering the aftermath of a Holiday Village stay but they should instead come forward and claim the compensation they deserve. There is power in numbers and First Choice needs to acknowledge the seriousness of this situation."

Mark witnessed several incidences of food poisoning and illness whilst on holiday. He added:

"One elderly lady came to dinner one evening with a severe head wound, which happened after she was so violently sick the night before that she passed out, hitting her head on the floor."

"When visiting the local pharmacy, we were given a pack of orange drinking salts and tablets for rehydration and to clear the gut. It was astounding how many people were sat around the pool with bottles filled with the same orange liquid."

Salmonellosis is the infection of the Salmonella bacteria. It can be contracted through eating food that has been wrongly prepared or stored incorrectly. Often, the virus can be nothing more that very unpleasant and can pass without the need for medication. However, in some vulnerable and young people the virus can be very dangerous and can affect the internal organs.

Mark added:

"We want an apology for our son and for First Choice to rectify the problems this resort is suffering from. We will never go on holiday with First Choice and urge anyone who is considering a visit to Holiday Village Red Sea to think again."

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