Mum says 'it's not fair' after £2k fine for taking kids out of school

Rebekah and Dale with children Jacob and Oliver in Orlando
Rebekah and Dale with children Jacob and Oliver in Orlando -Credit:Rebekah Richardson/SWNS

A couple fined £2,000 for taking their kids to Florida during term time say they have "no regrets".

Rebekah Richardson, 38, and Dale Wood, 46, wanted to take their children - Jacob, eight, and Oliver, seven - on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Universal Studios in Orlando. But when they compared the price of going in September during term time to the October half term there was a staggering jump in price.

They decided instead to go during the school term but say they are now "struggling to cope" as they are facing huge fines from their local authority.

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Derbyshire County Council issued a fixed penalty notice, otherwise known as a fine, to both parents. Rebekah was ordered to pay £924, with Dale fined £1,044. If they hadn't paid, 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.

Jacob and Oliver on their holiday
Jacob and Oliver on their holiday -Credit:Rebekah Richardson/SWNS

"I have no regrets as a parent. I think you can't ever regret spending time together as a family. The fine situation is 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. The holiday - from September 12 to September 27 - was in part to help with his suffering mental health, and the destination was his late brother's favourite place.

Rebekah said the holiday was “magical” but now worries she will have to cancel Christmas for her family as they are “totally skint.” The mum-of-two added: "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 and worried what will happen.”

On Tuesday May 30, Rebekah and Dale were stunned to receive a court summons ordering them to pay more than £2,000. Dale, who earns a wage via contracts, had been off work since January due to his mental health and only returned three weeks ago.

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. The family is 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.

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

The Woods' trip cost a total of £5,200 out of term time, and they say it would have cost exactly double this, at £10,400 during the October half term. Even after the fines they saved £3,200.

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