Dorothy Howson


I’ve been at Hallmark for 19 years and one of my most challenging bookings was a weekend trip to Venice.

A fairly straight forward request you would think, except that this was to be a surprise trip from an elderly gentleman who wanted to take his wife who used a wheelchair.  The request came to me in the form of an old-fashioned letter complete with a clipping from the newspaper with very strict instructions not to telephone, write or make any contact and he would call in next Thursday to see me - if he could get out of the house but he couldn’t be long as he would just tell her he was going to get the morning paper!

Also, he didn’t want to take their own wheelchair he wanted me to hire one when they arrived. The instructions were just book it, no dates mentioned and no budget either although I was sure there would be one!

I wasn’t sure which bit of the brief horrified me the most, the choice of Venice with all its bridges and steps, the wheelchair or the weekly point of contact IF he could get out of the house.

Well, they say you learn something new every day and I certainly learnt from this enquiry.  I learnt that you can rent wheelchairs in Venice, the Vaporetto boats are wheelchair accessible and that 70% of Venice is wheelchair accessible too.

They came to see me on their return to tell me what an amazing time they had and that the trip couldn’t have gone better.

I recall another unusual incident in the shop while I was booking a lady’s holiday and she suddenly fell asleep at my desk while I was mid sentence. Well I know I am many things but I didn’t think dull and boring was one of them.  I was later relieved to find out that the poor lady had narcolepsy and that it wasn’t me after all!


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