Two Carlisle women who lost their jobs when Thomas Cook collapsed have decided to stay in the travel industry.

Shirley McManus, 43, of Morton West, said it was devastating when the firm she had worked for more than 20 years went into compulsory liquidation.

Although Hays Travel took over the majority of Thomas Cook branches, Shirley said the new roles on offer there didn’t appeal to her.

Her long-time colleague Sue Wilson, 59, who lives off Yewdale Road, had already taken the plunge and became self-employed with Designer Travel, working from home.

She persuaded Shirley to join her, although the pair work independently of each other, and Shirley said they have not looked back.

Shirley, who has two teenage children, said: “We both had flexible roles at Thomas Cook and we weren’t sure if we would get the same with Hays.

“It was devastating when Thomas Cook went – I’ve worked in the travel industry since I left school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I needed flexible hours. Sue convinced me and I had a really good December working with Designer Travel and it’s busy now.

“We have lots of support from the firm, but we are self-employed.”

She added that social media was a big driver for bookings. “The high street is changing,” she said. “I don’t think people pop into town as much as they did. It was a big surprise that I get a lot of enquiries and bookings from Facebook, but it’s been great.”

She added that she enjoyed the experience of working from home.

“There’s no interruptions or things that need to be done. It also means you can devote more time to an enquiry.”