Back at the beginning of March 2020, the world was a different place. Europe was just learning about the spread of Covid-19, but we were yet to discover how quickly the virus was spreading. At this time, Five Acres High School were travelling with us on a ski trip to Claviere in Italy, but their trip was unfortunately cut short due to the lockdown in Italy – the first country to do so in Europe. Understandably the Party Leaders and students were gutted that their trip was to come to an abrupt end, however, the experience left a lasting impression on the group – but not for the wrong reasons! Read Five Acres’ personal account of their school ski trip during March 2020. 

Wednesday 11th March 2020; a day we will never forget. The pandemic hit Italy with full force – shutting the country down. With 40 students having an experience of a lifetime, this was an event that they would never forget. At the time of departure, the DfE and FCDO had given the green light for the trip to carry on – no one could foresee how quick the pandemic would spread. Having had superb support leading up to the departure to Italy, we were in no doubt that repatriation to the UK would be equally well supported. 

Leading up to the 11th, we had a few rumblings that the situation could escalate quickly – we had evening meetings with the resort rep to ensure we had a plan for all eventualities the following day. When the call came on the 10th that Italy would be closing all ski resorts, we did not panic. We had already planned along with the ski school to ski in neighbouring France for the day. This ensured not only an extra day skiing, but we could keep the students minds on skiing and enjoying themselves. Throughout that day I was kept in constant contact with the area and country rep along with the team back in the UK. The plan to repatriate was not only well-planned, but well executed.

On returning to our hotel, it was a well-planned timetable of events to make sure that all students were reassured, and that communication back home had been made. The Equity reps and resort manager were on hand to deal with all queries and help students to pack etc. They had even managed to ensure we had our pizza evening as planned. Instead of eating out, fresh pizza was delivered from the restaurant to the hotel. 

On sitting down with the Equity team, we knew to the minute, the plan to get us safely back to the UK was in full swing. From wake up to breakfast, loading the coach and the time it took to get out of Italy was well planned and executed – the coach company and its drivers were an absolute credit. Not only their impeccable driving skills but calming reassurance throughout. 

On the day of departure, once again everything ran like clockwork – we kept to a very tight schedule to ensure we met our ferry at Calais. Once again, throughout the journey home we had regular updates from the Equity team and guidance around the dreaded self-isolation. 

Despite what seemed like a major incident with cutting the trip short, at no point did the staff or more importantly the students and their parents/carers back home feel worried. The calm approach taken by Equity and regular communication, made the whole situation easy to deal with as a party leader. With 18 years of school ski trips, 15 of which leading – this is one I certainly will not forget. 

But what this has taught me is to look no further than Equity when booking another trip. The manner in which we have been supported even after we returned from Italy has given me absolute confidence in booking our next trip – 2022 – back to Italy to finish where we left off. 

We’d like to thank Five Acres for taking the time to put together a case study of their trip and we look forward to organising their next trip!