"No regrets": Couple fined £2,000 for taking their kids on holiday during term time

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A couple fined £2,000 for taking their kids on holiday during term time still saved £3.2k on cost of the trip - and say they have "no regrets".

Rebekah Richardson, 38, and Dale Wood, 46, wanted to take their children - Jacob, eight, and Oliver, seven - on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, US. But when they compared the price of going in September during term time to the October half term they were astonished to see a £5k price difference.

They decided to instead go during the school term but say are now "struggling to cope" as they are facing huge fines from their local authority. Derbyshire County Council issued a fixed penalty notice to both parents - ordering Rebekah to pay £924 and Dale £1,044. Had they do not paid up, after 28 days they risked potentially being prosecuted for their children's absence from school - though they have now started a payment plan.

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Rebekah, a hairdresser, from Clowne, said: “We’re being treated as criminals for taking our young kids on holiday. I feel as parents we’re penalised for everything now. I have no regrets as a parent - I think you can't ever regret spending time together as a family. The fine situation it’s like Russian roulette some get fined some don’t which is unfair. Either every parent gets fined or none you can’t pick and choose - I don't think we should get criminal records."

Dale, an army veteran who now works for a water company, had been suffering from PTSD after his brother, Gavin, died suddenly aged 35 - after complications arising from taking the Covid vaccine. The holiday - from September 12 to September 27 - was in part a getaway as he had been suffering with his mental health and the destination was his late brother Gavin's favourite place. Rebekah said the holiday was “magical” but now worries that she will have to cancel Christmas for her family as they are “totally skint.”

Rebekah said: “We went swimming with the dolphins – the kids loved it, they even held an alligator. They loved meeting all the Marvel characters and meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It was so nice to get away but now we are very stressed because and worried what will happen.”

On Tuesday May 30, Rebekah and Dale were stunned to receive a court summons - ordering Rebekah to pay £924 and Dale £1,044. To make matters worse, Dale - who earns a wage via contracts - had been off work since January due to his mental health and only returned three weeks ago.

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Rebekah said: “Dale wasn’t working in November and doesn't earn a regular daily wage - we are now really skint. When the fine came through in December 2023, it was the difference between having Christmas and not."

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The couple are currently disputing the amount - due to their financial circumstances changing. “We are scared will now have a criminal record and it will go against our credit rating,” Rebekah said.

Rebekah says she knows of other parents who have done the same who have not been fined – and says "it’s not fair" that it’s one rule for some and a different rule for others. The family are now behind on every bill and have had to set up a direct debit to pay £170-a-month to pay off the fine and say they're struggling.

“We’re being treated as criminals for taking our kids on holiday, they're not year 11 and sitting GCSEs,” Rebekah said. “And it’s alright for teachers to go on strike which made me have to unpaid time off as I am self-employed.”

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