Brenda Wall - The Consumer Activist!
Brenda was an ordinary housewife from Birmingham and a Gastroenterology Nurse
However, in 1994, everything changed and Consumer Activism found a new name!
These descriptive words of Brenda Wall are again reproduced with the kind permission of the Wall Family.
"Brenda devoted much, if not all of her life and time to 'Putting Holidaymakers First' in her campaign to secure safer holidays for us all.
She was instrumental in improving standards, facilities and services in many foreign destinations, especially the Dominican Republic and the Balaeric Islands, and continually strove to meet the goals of HolidayTravelWatch by always 'Putting Holidaymakers First'.
Brenda was described by Consumer Commentators as being, 'Passionate, Dedicated and Committed' to the problems and plight of all British consumers/holidaymakers.
In a world where people like this are in short supply, Brenda was an inspirational reminder of the power of the human spirit.
Brenda's passion, tenacity and steadfast desire to fight for the rights of consumers, holidaymakers and the underdogs, defied the odds. Where there was injustice, she took on some of the biggest travel companies in the world. Her own victory was made sweet by the fact that she now helped others in their fight for justice. The fact that one woman's passion and commitment could have such a positive effect on so many people and their lives, never failed to amaze her.
When asked what effect it had on her as a person, she said "the whole experience has changed and transformed my life completely and made me a much better person for it. I firmly believe that what happened to me and others in San Andres, was meant to happen, in order that I can pass on my knowledge and experience to others and hopefully make travelling abroad a more enjoyable and safer experience for all concerned".
Until 1994, she was someone who was unaware of the many problems and pitfalls that affected holidaymakers abroad.
Brenda was well known for being very outspoken both to the press, the television and tour operators when she represented the views of many British holidaymakers.
Many of the British press and media described her as 'The woman the tour operators hate', 'Every tour operators nightmare', 'The scourge of the travel industry', 'Consumers/holidaymakers champion' and 'The woman who makes Anne Robinson look as ferocious as your dotty old aunt'.
Brenda spent most of her life working in the nursing profession and in the National Health Service.
In the Summer of 1994, Brenda and her husband decided to take a holiday to a Caribbean destination - San Andres. The holiday was a disaster for Brenda and her husband and for many other British holidaymakers, who very quickly became seriously ill as a direct result of the 'all inclusive' holiday and bad hygiene and sanitation standards. Many of the holidaymakers, including Brenda and her husband returned home very ill suffering with diseases such as:
• Amoebic Dysentery
• Bacillary Dysentery
• Giardia Lamblia
• Aeromonas Sobria
• Aeromonas Hydrophilia
• Endolimax Nana
• Vibrio Parahaemolyticus
After trying to resolve the holiday complaint direct with the tour operator and getting nowhere, Brenda contacted the other holidaymakers, formed a Class/Group Action involving 115 people, took expert legal advice and took the claim all the way to the High Court in London. As a direct result of her efforts, she and other group members secured an out of Court settlement for undisclosed damages. The case has often been referred to as ' David and Goliath'.
It was after this landmark case that she realised she had gained a vast amount of knowledge and experience during the three years she was bringing her group action to the High Court. She became committed to the plight and injustices of British holidaymakers. It was at the end of 1995 that she created the organisation HolidayTravelWatch to give assistance, advice, information and support to other holidaymakers, who had suffered distress and appalling holidays with British tour operators.
Brenda had regular meetings with some of the major tour operators, Thomson, Airtours, First Choice, JMC, and some of the independent operators to put the consumers point of view in an attempt to raise health and safety awareness and improve the travel industry's standards.
Brenda worked closely with the Consumers Association Holiday Which? and Consumer Safety International.
Brenda regularly featured on National TV and Radio and contributed and featured in:
• ITV 'Holidays From Hell'
• ITV 'Package Holidays Uncovered’
• BBC 'Watchdog'
• BBC 'Destination Nightmares'
• ITV 'Wish You Were Here'
• ITV 'We Can Work It Out'
• ITV 'GMTV'
• ITV 'This Morning' with Richard and Judy
• Granada 'Livetime'
• Carlton TV 'Know Your Rights'
• BBC Breakfast
• BBC 'Working Lunch'
• HTV 'Out of Order'
• 'The Vanessa Show'
• BBC 'Kilroy'
• BBC Midlands News
• BBC Northwest News
• Granada 'Tonight'
• ITV '3D`
• ITV 'I Spy'
• 'The Big Breakfast'
• BBC 'The Great Escape'
• 'Carlton Woman'
• BBC Radio 4 'You and Yours'
• BBC Radio WM 'Ed Doolan Show'
• BBC Radio WM 'Tony & Julie Late Show'
• BBC Radio5 '5 Live'
• BBC Radio 'Late Show'
• Talk TV
• ITV 'World In Action'
• 'The Pulse'
• HTV 'Fairs Fair'
• BBC Radio 'The Andy Peebles Show'
• 'Simply Money'
• ITV 'Norton's Outakes'
• Granada ‘Extreme Nightmare Disasters’
Many news programs plus, virtually all National and Major Local Newspapers, Magazines, Environmental Health News and Journals and the Travel Press.
Brenda attended and spoke at many national Conference's and Seminar's on consumer issues and legal developments.
She addressed the 1998 1st International Travel and Tourism Conference and attended the 3rd International Travel and Tourism Conference, held in Newcastle, England in May 2000.
Brenda was one of the key speakers at the 1st International Conference on Food Safety in Travel and Tourism, sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the NSF in Barcelona, Spain.
Brenda regularly presented seminars at ABTA, where she graphically demonstrated to tour operators, travel agents, customer services staff, legal staff and representatives of the travel industry, some of the appalling conditions and situations that holidaymakers experience abroad.
Brenda addressed the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Presentations have been shown to the Federation of Tour Operators Steering Group, the Consumers Association, Holiday Which? and the Travel and Tourism Department of the University of Northumbria.
Brenda had been asked to do several training sessions and presentations for tour operators, their representatives and resort staff overseas.
A unique meeting took place between Brenda Wall of HolidayTravelWatch and Molly Maher of Consumer Safety International when they joined forces with the Heads of Health and Safety of two of the countries biggest tour operators, Thomson and Airtours. The delegation from the UK flew to Madrid for a meeting with the Spanish Minister of Tourism, Mr Eduardo Gamero, together with a representative from the Spanish National Tourist Board. The aim of the delegation was to seek further mutual co-operation for improvements in holiday accommodation and to discuss ways of improving general health and safety for the benefit of British holidaymakers.
In September 2001, at The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in London, Brenda showed a presentation and addressed Environmental Health Officers of the London Food Study Group who have a particular interest in food safety.
In March 2002, Brenda addressed the Northern Forum Trainers Exchange in Gateshead and later that same month she addressed the Environmental Health Officers in Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
Her work continued through into 2003/4 when she helped advise many thousands of holidaymakers including 1600 people who had become ill during the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Majorca during 2003".
Frank observes that despite her illness, she continued with her direct contact with holidaymakers until 3 days before she passed away in 2005.
Brenda’s motto was always ‘putting holidaymakers first’. In this fractious world, never was there a time when now more than ever, her vision, ethic and ethos is sorely needed!