Harrogate school pupils left stranded at sea after French ferry strike

Pupils from Harrogate Grammar School.

Pupils from Harrogate Grammar School.

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Sixty Harrogate pupils arrived back home safely on Tuesday following a traumatic trip which saw them literally stranded at sea as a result of French strikes.

The Year 7 youngsters from Harrogate Grammar School were scheduled to go on their annual trip to Le Touquet, France, from 6am on Monday to midnight on Wednesday.

But, when they were just a few miles away from Calais on the ferry at around 2pm on Monday, they were turned away due to striking ferry port workers.

They were not able to get back into Dover until there was space, meaning they were stranded for a number of hours in the Channel.

The drama didn’t end there for the children, with cancelled hotel stays, missing the Eurotunnel and their coach breaking down.

The school’s deputy headteacher Kirstie Moat, who desperately tried to salvage the trip back in Harrogate, while updating worried parents on Twitter, said: “There was a lot of hanging around outside Calais on the boat and they were told they would have to turn around. There were a lot of frantic phone calls to get them booked on the Eurotunnel but by the time they got back to Dover it took so long to unload the boat they missed the shuttle.”

Mrs Moat then tried to book the group into a hotel so they could catch the train the following morning but the receptionist refused to take a card payment over the phone to secure the rooms.

“By the time we got back in touch to sort it out, they had given the rooms away. We had every man and his dog trying to somewhere for them to stay,” she said.

It then emerged there were no more shuttles until Tuesday afternoon, so a decision was made to stay in the UK and the pupils ended up at a hotel in London.

In an attempt to cheer up the disappointed children, Mrs Moat, who runs the school’s Twitter account, began Tweeting different companies to see if anyone could cheer them up.

The Tweets were spotted by Drayton Manor and the children were invited to spend the day at the theme park. But misfortune struck again when their coach broke down four miles outside the park.

Fortunatley a coach driver at the park offered to pick them up and they were eventually welcomed by the park’s mascot at 3pm on Tuesday and handed ice creams.

Mrs Moat said: “The kids have just been brilliant. Considering they were expecting a three-day trip to France and they ended up with a brief tour around London and a couple of hours at a theme park.”