A MOTHER has spoken of her joy after finding out her teenage daughter would be returning home safely following a nightmare trip to the USA.
Nicola Crowle, 16, was one of the 48 students and three staff members from Crookhorn College in Waterlooville who were hospitalised after being struck down with a gastrointestinal virus in America.
The students have been suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea after arriving in the US on March 29 for the trip to New York and Washington DC, with Nicola being placed on a drip twice.
The group was staying at Hotel Harrington in Washington for the second part of their visit and, according to its manager, many were feeling under the weather when they arrived.
Nicola’s mother, Susan Crowle, 56, said: ‘We found out what had happened to Nicola on Saturday morning.
‘She Facetimed me and was lying in bed waiting for paramedics to arrive and had a very bloodshot face.
‘I’ve been very tired because I haven’t slept since finding out about it – I have been so worried about her.
‘It is so difficult when your youngest child is so unwell, thousands of miles away, and you’re stuck here and cannot do anything about it. All I know is that she had a meal when she landed and has been really ill ever since.’
But Nicola will be joining the other pupils and teachers on the flight home, with the students returning to the college early this morning.
Susan said: ‘She phoned me to say that they are going to release her, so she’ll be home alongside everyone else.
‘I’m so pleased about it and am really looking forward to having her back, because there was a bit of doubt as to whether she would be fit enough to fly.
‘There’s a big hug waiting for her when she gets home.’
One school parent, who wished to remain anonymous, says that the trip has been held for a number of years with no problems whatsoever.
They said: ‘The trip is open to all year groups and is done every year – but there has never been anything like this before.
‘One of my daughters went on the trip a few years ago and absolutely loved it.
‘It is probably a very scary situation for everyone out there – I’m just glad they are all able to get home safely.
‘I feel really bad for everyone out there because it is meant to be such a great trip; it’s a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.’
Crookhorn College said: ‘Pupils and teachers were struck by a virulent gastro virus that has affected most of the party during their time in New York and Washington.
‘The main priority since the outbreak of the virus has been the safety and welfare of the students and staff, and keeping their families in the UK country informed of events.
‘All members of the trip are now well into recovery and are being kept under observation at their hotel in Washington.
‘A further member of staff has flown in to join the group to give assistance to the staff who are there and further support to the students.
‘All have done the most amazing job at looking after the children and the college has had fantastic support from Hampshire County Council.
‘Our main priority now is to ensure that all the students and staff get home safe and well.’
Chair of governors Cllr Jackie Branson says that a plan of action is in place for everyone’s safe return.
She said: ‘I have spoken to the headteacher and there is a plan in place.
‘They will all be coming back this morning and I will be going to the college myself.
‘It’s great that all of them are due back and if there are any complications I am sure they will be resolved.
‘The most important thing is that we get everyone home – once that’s done we can concentrate on sorting everything else out.’