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Man cancels non-refundable holiday he’s been looking forward to for 64 years because he’s worried about the planet


This couple scraped a dream holiday to America and chose to travel to Cornwall instead (Picture: Wessex News Agency/Getty

Ever get ‘flying shame’ when you cross the skies for that Insta-worthy holiday but can’t seem to detach yourself from the feeling of impending doom of our planet?

You’re not alone. That environmental guilt is a feeling that 75-year-old Al Venables shares.

The OAP, who lives in Gloucestershire, has even cancelled a trip he’s looked forward to for 64 years, since his boyhood.

Al, who lives with his partner Jane Hobdell, has been obsessed with the Aleutian Islands, 5,000 miles away in Alaska, since he was an 11-year-old schoolboy.

But they scrapped plans to fly there because of the impact that jet aircrafts have on the environment.

The couple were prepared to lose the entire £3,000 non-refundable deposit on the holiday but fortunately, the travel company has agreed to take only half.

Fully aware that they would be losing their £3,000, they had contacted the firm, explaining that they wanted to cancel the booking for environmental reasons.

Al explained: ‘They told me they understood and respected our reasons and because of that, they would be happy to return to 50% of our deposit.

‘That was very good of them – I felt quite touched by it.’

Al had dreamt of going to Alaska for 64 years (Picture: Wessex News Agency/Getty)

Instead, the couple chose a holiday destination a bit closer to home, travelling by rail to Cornwall, which Jane described as ‘lovely’.

Al learned about the islands when he saw a film focussed on the wildlife there in 1955, when he was at school.

Now a retired university lecturer in microbiology and genetics, he said: ‘In the back of my mind there has always been the thought “one day I’ll go there”.

‘I’m 75 now, so on and off for 64 years I’ve been thinking about it.’

‘I’ve always been into wildlife, and I was fascinated by the Aleutians. They’re volcanic but no longer active.’

Al is no stranger to visiting remote places, having previously travelled to Antarctica and the Arctic.

He now gives talks about the wildlife he has seen there. He added: ‘I’m also interested in how the ice is retreating, and concerned about the climate.’

He says that having witnessed at first hand the impact of climate change in the polar regions, he’s now a committed environmental campaigner.

Jane is too, and they are both active members of Extinction Rebellion.

Al added: ‘When we began to think about it, we couldn’t reconcile the fact that the trip started with a long haul flight to Vancouver.

‘With the current climate crisis and the need for us all to reduce our carbon footprints, we felt bound by our consciences not to take any further long-haul flights.

‘And although Jane and I were greatly looking forward to the cruise, after a great deal of soul searching we decided we were going to cancel.’

Jane had been well aware of his long-held dream to visit the islands, so when she saw an advert for a fly-and-cruise holiday there, she suggested they go.

She said: ‘We booked two tickets – it wasn’t cheap, we had to put down a £3,000 non-returnable deposit.’

At least they got £1,500 back.

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