AN ILKESTON couple feared their daughter could have died after she became dangerously ill during a family holiday at a notorious Turkish hotel.
The Clifton family have this week finally received compensation after they were all struck down with food poisoning during their stay at the Pegasus Palace Hotel in Sarigerme five years ago.
Donna Clifton, 44, told the Advertiser this week how Turkish doctors put daughter Ellie, then aged 10, on a drip in their hotel room at the four-star all-inclusive resort, which her and her husband Nigel booked through tour operator First Choice.
“It was when she was taken to hospital that Nigel and I stood on the balcony and we said we both thought we were going to lose her,” said Donna.
All 12 of the Clifton’s party on the holiday fell ill to different degrees on the two-week stay – Donna and Ellie’s illnesses were so severe they were quarantined in their Litchen Close home for a further two weeks after the 2006 holiday.
Donna explained that tests here in the UK found Ellie had contracted a rare tropical disease alongside potentially deadly stomach bug E. Coli, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
“The hotel looked clean, it was quite nice, the food was alright,” she said.
“Even when Ellie started to get ill, I didn’t think that much of it – kids get sick.
“But within 24 hours it had spiralled out of control.
“We were so ill but trying to help Ellie out as much as we could. It was awful.”
Both Donna and Ellie said they continued to suffer effects from their illnesses until recently.
“I was tired all the time,” said Donna, who owns Out of This World supermarket in Beeston with Nigel.
“It’s only recently I’ve gone back to working full days.”
Ellie, now 15, said she is much more picky with her food since her illness.
More than 50 children were among a total of 117 holidaymakers awarded a combined settlement of £371,500 after the otubreak, which included salmonella – particularly dangerous to young people.
The tourists all fell ill while staying at the hotel during the summer of 2006.
Donna said: “I was happy with what I got, but it’s nothing to do with the money. First Choice never even apologised.”
Despite changing its name in 2007 to Holiday Village Turkey the infamous hotel continued to be the scene of serious gastric illnesses caused by poor health and safety.
Another Ilkeston holidaymaker Susan Grainger, her family and friends became ill during a stay at the hotel under its new name two years ago.
She said: “It felt like my stomach was being ripped apart – it was worse than childbirth.
“When we got home I went straight to the QMC and they told me that if I would have left it eventually my organs would have shut down and I could have died.”
The 500-room hotel, which was investigated by BBC’s Watchdog in 2009, has seen more than 1,200 people take legal action through law firm Irwin Mitchell since 2005 following repeated incidents of gastric illneses.
Travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, Elizabeth Tetzner, said: “What is most worrying is that we have seen large numbers of guests at this hotel suffer illness every year since 2005. The name may have changed but the same problems remain. There are real concerns that important lessons are just not being learnt.”
A spokesman from First Choice said: “We were pleased to have finally reached an agreement following a very lengthy negotiation process with a no win, no fee legal firm.
“First Choice had been striving to reach settlement on these cases for a significant period of time.
“We would like to reassure all our customers that their health and safety is our primary concern.
“The company works with all its hotel partners to ensure that highest standards of hygiene, safety and comfort are maintained.”