Special Report: Abta bursary is a lifeline for Melissa

Special Report: Abta bursary is a lifeline for Melissa

Abta Lifeline is seeking industry applicants for its second educational bursary. The first recipient tells Juliet Dennis how the bursary helped her career prospects

Without the Abta LifeLine bursary, Melissa Camp (second from right) faced giving up either her job or her business management degree course – or both.

The sudden death of her father from lung cancer last year left Melissa, a business trainee with Classic Collection, to take care of her younger brother Stuart, who suffers from Asperger syndrome.

With debts mounting, she feared she would have to give up her studies to work full-time to pay for food, rent and bills.

“The bursary made things a lot easier, since I would have had to quit my job or degree,” said Melissa, now 21, who was signed off work with depression and anxiety last summer.

Industry benevolence

“I hadn’t been able to get any benefits for my brother and I was getting into debt. The bursary restored my faith in people in general, and showed the interest the industry has in looking after people working in the sector.”

Melissa was the first recipient of the Abta LifeLine bursary, in memory of industry veteran Colin Heal, who died two years ago.

The £2,000 bursary has funded the second year of her day-release degree course.

Melissa said she would be forever grateful as the bursary has allowed her to stay in an industry she loved and improved her long-term career prospects, not to mention helping her get her life back on track.

“It’s made me fall in love with the industry,” added Melissa, who studies one day a week and works for Classic Collection for four days.

Learning process

As part of the bursary, Melissa has also been invited to high-profile industry events – she will be attending Abta’s Travel Matters conference on June 24.

“It is a great opportunity for me to meet senior people in the industry, and fantastic as a way to learn more about the industry,” she added.

Melissa plans to stay in travel after she completes her degree.

“I can’t imagine leaving the travel industry,” she said. “It’s so fast-paced and interesting. I am really enjoying being in travel.”

Just over a year on from her father’s death, Melissa has moved into a rented room and her brother, now 17, has moved to Surrey to live with their mother, where he is about to start his first part-time job, during a gap year, at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, before going back to his studies.

They recently held a family 
get-together to mark a year since her father’s death.

“The one silver lining is that this has brought both sides of the family closer together,” said Melissa, who added: “I am really proud of my brother and how well he’s done.”

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