'I've been fined £2k for taking my kids out of school to go on holiday - but have no regrets'

Rebekah Richardson and Dale Wood with children Jacob and Oliver posing in front of the Disney castle in Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rebekah Richardson and Dale Wood with children Jacob and Oliver on their holiday to Orlando -Credit:Rebekah Richardson/SWNS

A couple who were slapped with a £2k fine for taking their children out of school for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday say they have 'no regrets.'

Rebekah Richardson, 38, and Dale Wood, 46, say that despite the charge, they still saved £3.2k on a family holiday to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. When they compared the price of taking sons Jacob, eight, and Oliver, seven, on the trip in during term time in September to the October half term they were astonished to see a £5k price difference.

They decided to instead go during the school term but say are now "struggling to cope" as they are facing huge fines from their local authority. Derbyshire County Council issued a fixed penalty notice, otherwise known as a fine, to both parents - ordering Rebekah to pay £924 and Dale £1,044.

READ MORE: Ashley Madison scandal: Who are Sam and Nia Rader? The Christian family vloggers who went viral

Had they not paid up, after 28 days they risked potentially being prosecuted for their children's absence from school - though they have now started a payment plan. Rebekah, a hairdresser, from Clowne, Derbyshire, said: "We're being treated as criminals for taking our young kids on holiday."

"I feel as parents we're penalised for everything now. I have no regrets as a parent - I think you can't ever regret spending time together as a family. The fine situation it's like Russian roulette some get fined some don't which is unfair. Either every parent gets fined or none - you can't pick and choose. I don't think we should get criminal records."

Dale, an army veteran who now works for a water company, had been suffering from PTSD after his brother, Gavin, died suddenly aged 35 - after complications arising from taking the Covid vaccine. The holiday - from September 12 to September 27 - was in part a getaway as he had been suffering with his mental health and the destination was his late brother Gavin's favourite place.

Rebekah said the holiday was "magical" but now worries that she will have to cancel Christmas for her family as they are "totally skint." Rebekah said: "We went swimming with the dolphins the kids loved it, they even held an alligator.

"They loved meeting all the Marvel characters and meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It was so nice to get away but now we are very stressed because and worried what will happen."

Rebekah and Dale were stunned to receive a court summons - ordering Rebekah to pay £924 and Dale £1,044. To make matters worse, Dale - who earns a wage via contracts - had been off work since January due to his mental health and had only returned three weeks prior.

Rebekah said: "Dale wasn't working in November and doesn't earn a regular daily wage - we are now really skint. When the fine came through in December 2023, it was the difference between having Christmas and not."

The couple are currently disputing the amount - due to their financial circumstances changing. "We are scared will now have a criminal record and it will go against our credit rating," Rebekah said.

Rebekah says she knows of other parents who have done the same who have not been fined and says "it's not fair" that it's one rule for some and a different rule for others. The family are now behind on every bill and have had to set up a direct debit to pay £170-a-month to pay off the fine and say they're struggling.

"We're being treated as criminals for taking our kids on holiday, they're not year 11 and sitting GCSEs," Rebekah said. "And it's alright for teachers to go on strike which made me have to unpaid time off as I am self-employed."

Breakdown of trip the Woods' family trip

Out-of-term time

  • Flights and accommodation in a package - £3,000

  • Family tickets for Orlando Studios - £1,200

  • Family tickets for Disneyland for three days - £1,100

  • Total: £5,200

During school holidays

  • Flights and accommodation in a package - £6,200

  • Family tickets for Orlando Studios - £2,100

  • Family tickets for Disneyland for three days - £2,100

  • Total: £10,400

Saving: £5,200

Savings after fines: £3,200