Help for staff and travellers hit by Thomas Cook collapse

As rescue flights head home with holiday-makers stranded by the collapse of Thomas Cook hundreds of staff at the headquarters in Peterborough have been packing up their belongings and saying tearful farewells.

The Cambridgeshire city has been home to the company which invented the package holiday since 1977 and more than 1,000 staff were employed there along with thousands more in high street travel agencies around the country.

As a goodwill gesture Peterborough United Football Club has offered free tickets to this Saturday's match against AFC Wimbledon to all Thomas Cook employees.

Rail companies are offering to lift restrictions on train tickets for holiday-makers delayed on their return home.

  • Click to watch ITV News Anglia reports about the collapse of Thomas Cook

Michelle Day from Red Lodge in Suffolk was looking forward to next month's holiday in Majorca with her husband Tom and son James - their first for three years.

It was booked online with Thomas Cook.

Having recently become unemployed, it was just the tonic she needed only to end up being disappointed.

Michelle Day from Suffolk had a holiday in Majorca booked with Thomas Cook. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Peterborough United says Thomas Cook employees can visit the Ticket Office at the Weston Homes Stadium and provide proof of employment to secure their free match ticket.

The club says additional tickets for the children of those affected are also available for a nominal fee.

Peterborough United were sponsored by Thomas Cook in the 1990s. Credit: Peterborough United Football Club

Thomas Cook was the UK's oldest travel company, trading for 178 years.

It was founded by Leicester cabinet maker Thomas Cook who started off organising day trips for church goers in 1841.

Mr Cook launched trips to Paris in 1855 before venturing to Italy, Switzerland, eqypt and the United States in the 1860s. The first high street shop opened in 1865 in London.

The Cook family sold the business to the company which ran the Orient Express in 1928 before it became part of the state-owned British Rail in 1948.

Thomas Cook returned to private ownership in 1972 and opened a headquarters in Peterborough in 1977.