A COUPLE’S dream Mediterranean beach wedding has been ruined by yesterday’s collapse of holiday giant Thomas Cook leaving their five-year-old daughter ‘heartbroken’.

Lee Birch and Laura Barnard from Pleckgate in Blackburn said they were ‘absolutely devastated’ by the loss of their two-week holiday including a wedding ceremony and reception for 20 guests in Paphos,Cyprus, next month.

They said their biggest regret was for their daughter Isla Rose who was heartbroken at the loss of her parents’ big celebration for which she had been excitedly counting down the days.

Another Blackburn couple stranded in Tenerife are among 150,000 Thomas Cook holidaymakers, including hundreds from East Lancashire, fretting about return flights to the UK.

Dozens of staff at the travel firm’s branches in King William Street in Blackburn, Chancery Walk in Burnley, Chapel Street in Chorley, and Market Street in Colne we’re left without jobs following the collapse of the firm.

The Accrington branch closed in May as part of a failed restructuring of the 178-year-old business which went into liquidation ‘with immediate effect’ at 2am yesterday, sparking the biggest peacetime repatriation of Britons as the Civil Aviation Authority chartered 45 jets.

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: "The vast majority of holidaymakers’ arrangements are covered through different types of financial protection’."

This still left Mr Birch, 34, and Miss Barnard, 33, of Sandringham Road, forced to cancel their wedding on a Cypriot beach on October 23 and left them with no time or money to rearrange it.

He said: “We are absolutely devastated.

“We booked in August at Thomas Cook in Blackburn to fly out on October 14 in time for a wedding on October 23.

“There were 20 guests flying out including my mother Michelle and Laura’s mother Gillian.

“The worst thing was telling our five-year-old daughter Isla Rose. She is heartbroken.

“She was so excited we were getting married and has been counting down the calendar day by day until the wedding.

“Most of us are booked and flying with Thomas Cook. We were staying at the Hotel Cypria Bay and the wedding was at the Sunset Venue. It’s too late to rebook and we can’t afford it until we get our money back - £4,000 for the holiday and hotel and £600 for extras.

“We have been together for seven years and living together for five. Our dream was always to have a beach wedding abroad and we don’t know what we will do now. We and Isla Rose were so looking forward to the big day.

“I suppose we just have to wait and see what happens but it will have to be next year.

“It is worrying about the guests who did not book with Thomas Cook and whether they will be compensated.”

Sales manager Mr Birch said he had heard nothing from Thomas Cook for months and only last week the wedding planner in Cyprus had been assuring him their package was safe.

Catering supervisor Miss Barnard, said yesterday: “I feel rubbish. I had to come home from work because I was crying all the time.

“Isla Rose is absolutely heartbroken.”

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Darwen grandmother Wendy Pearson, 51, is fretting for her daughter Catherine, son-in-law Gareth and their two children aged six and nine who are in Puerto Santiago, Tenerife, on a Thomas Cook holiday booked through On The Beach.

She said: “I am really concerned. They went on Saturday and are very worried about getting a flight home. They cannot find out anything from On The Beach or the CAA website about replacement flights back on Thursday night."

An On The Beach spokesman said the company was contacting holidaymakers abroad at ‘an unsettling time’ to assure them the CAA would arrange return flights and that it would inform them of arrangements promptly when they had been confirmed.