I always find the Agent Achievement Awards an emotional night.

Winning our coveted accolades means a huge amount to agents and we often have screams of delight, tears of joy and whole teams storming the stage to collect their trophies.

But rarely have we seen such a unified outpouring of respect as we did last week when Nicola Brookfield was named leisure manager of the year and the whole room stood to acknowledge her.

Nicola is the manager of Tui’s branch in Southport and witnessed the murder of her team member Cassie Hayes in January 2018. Her instincts saw her quickly lock other staff away and get customers out of the shop. But this is not why Nicola won her award.

Despite keeping her head in this, the most unthinkable of circumstances, Nicola won for what happened in the following days, weeks and months.

She supported her colleagues, encouraging them not to leave the travel industry when some were understandably wavering. She kept them together as a unit, making it tighter than ever, and urged them to ensure Cassie’s life wasn’t taken in vain. Cassie loved being a travel agent and Nicola was determined her colleagues would give her the most fitting of tributes…to pull together and fight back. Nicola’s shop smashed its targets. And her drive and love for her “girls” helped them start to process their experiences and learn to love their jobs again. A truly remarkable story and a truly inspirational woman. Exactly what the AAAs are all about.

Comment from Travel Weekly, July 18 edition