Hellene Travel is Back!

A Year in the fluctuating fortunes of Hellene [School] Travel + £100.00 Pictorial Pun Prize!

The new Hellene School Travel Website complete, we now wait upon Banks, Insurance, ABTA & ATOL etc. Few answer telephones or reply to e-mails, citing the new mantra “COVID Staff Shortages”.

The last year has been a roller coaster; April to September, quite frankly hideous, but   October offers a glimmer of hope.

Whilst still teaching, we created Hellene as a specialised Classics Travel Company but increasing success brought with it an onerous workload. Not wishing standards to suffer we sold, albeit reluctantly, to a larger Company. More recently, they in turn sold to a Corporate Body who, whilst retaining our services as specialist consultants, began slowly to subsume Hellene into a more general Travel Portfolio. By last October we were becoming marginalised, training days became less frequent, staff felt less confident and most importantly, we sensed unease in some Clients.    

January saw a rash of meetings and radical decision making – re-emphasise the Classical Ethos, add more Classical destinations, employ more Classicists! Celebrate 21 years in business!

By February it had been decided to employ three Classicists in Sales & Operations. Over thirty applications were received from candidates of outstanding calibre; telephone interviews were conducted, a final Interview date set! With specialised Classicists on board it was going to be amazing! We were planning to celebrate in style – a heavily subsidised Teachers Trip, Competitions, Quizzes, Prizes!

Then life began to resemble a Greek Tragedy with elements of hamartia & hybris, a devastating peripeteia and a blistering katharsis. 

Our 13 year old “Kylix Cat” developed Diabetes further compounded by Akromygalia; a good Greek term, she had style! We nursed her through a lengthy deterioration for as long as there remained hope. Those pesky Greek Gods!

Then flaming COVID. Let no one deny the existence of Nemesis…..

In March, the cancellations began; refunds, postponements, damage limitation.  Teachers were unfailingly understanding and kind. Staff were in tears – but there was some hope.  

April was a month of extreme worry, rumour, counter rumour – and little hope.

Mass redundancies and closure of the whole travel section? Or furlough, survival of Hellene alone, but prepare to re-interview for your own job? Even less hope.

We were the first to be terminated. Huge thanks and immense respect to the ever-dwindling Staff contingent, who continued to deal so efficiently with customer needs, whilst watching their own employment chances evaporate. No hope.

The evening of Friday 1st May we informed Clients. Thus, with over 2,500 messages of condolence & support, much beating of breasts & more tears than Niobe we descended into the depths of Tartarus.  No hyperbole, it really did feel like that – and we have been far luckier than most.

The Summer months began with the horror of watching our educational system descend into farce. Then slowly, very slowly Teachers began asking if we’d consider relaunching….and so we have come full (Orphic?) circle. We begin again.

It’s been a hideous, roller coaster of a year which has taught us an awful lot about ourselves & others. Folk really do show their true character in adversity. 

Whether we’ll be as successful second time around, we know not. We do owe a huge obligation to Agents, colleagues, friends and customers, all of whom have been SO supportive – especially those abroad earning precisely zilch in the past seven months. Some are relying on savings, others have taken alternative employment – all have families to feed. One is taking in stray animals whilst nursing elderly parents, another has passed a distance learning H&S hygiene course whilst tending his market garden, yet another has gone into Teaching. All look forward to the day when Teachers and pupils return.

COVID-19 means Rules and Regulations are constantly changing both here and abroad, additionally we now have Brexit to add to the mix. Our October Travel plans have been postponed but we hope soon to report back from Athens and Rome, with an extended Greek Trip planned for April. 

Many Teachers are understandably too exhausted to even contemplate organising a Trip but we are receiving a slow, steady trickle of enquiries for end of Summer Term and Autumn Half Term 2021.

Meanwhile, do take some time to explore the brand-new Hellene School Travel Website. Different from other School Travel Web Sites, it contains many excellent ideas for you to mix and match 

We’ve also included several apposite Classics Pictorial Puns & Sources within theContact/Addenda Sections. You could win a £100.00 Book Token (wine or chocolate if you prefer) by successfully identifying and e-mailing the references to – sarah404bc@gmail.com (plus any ‘deliberate errors’, please!).

Enjoy Half Term. Enjoy Classics. Enjoy Teaching.

Please stay safe and remain creative.   

Best Wishes,
Sarah and John
Hellene School Travel 
Tel: 01342 324727