Turning 2020 around

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Andrew Sowry – along with his former colleague and now business partner, Patricia Parry – went from losing their jobs at Shearings to launching their own business a few months later. Peter Jackson tells their story and finds out more about their new venture

This has been a year to remember for the coach industry, though sadly for all the wrong reasons. As much as all of us would like to forget 2020 when ‘21 rolls around, this year has left a mark on the sector that nobody can ignore. Among the high-profile casualties of Covid earlier this year was Specialist Leisure Group (SLG) and its subsidiary Shearings Holidays, a century-old staple of the sector.

By far the largest coach holiday operation in the UK, SLG encompassed – besides Shearings – National Holidays, Caledonian Travel and the Wallace Arnold retail travel agencies. Not forgetting the Bay and Coast & Country Hotel brands which were an integral part of the SLG umbrella. All in, 2,460 members of staff were on its books when the administrators came in.

Among them were Andrew Sowry and Patricia Parry. “Tricia and I were colleagues at Shearings Holidays – she was there around 17 years and I was merely a baby at three and a half years,” Andrew began. “I was one of the European Product Managers there and Tricia had covered roles in the UK and Europe, latterly being responsible for river and ocean cruises.

Shearings Brochure Launch: From the left – Andrew Sowry, Lucy Osborne, Louise Mason, Patricia Parry, Kathryn Morris

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