Chemotherapy is a living hell for so many people with cancer yet travel expert Rachael Coyne has not only managed to work in her business throughout the treatment, she has also won a coveted industry award alongside her husband Colman.
Rachael and Colman, who own and run Huddersfield-based Jetset Not Just Travel, have won a Great British Franchisee Award from whichfranchise.com, the highest honour in the franchising world.
In October 2021 Rachael was told that her cancer had returned for a second time. She embarked on 14 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy up to February 2022. Not only did she manage to continue working but she also brought in £400,000 of business in just the first six weeks of this year.
Rachael said: “I felt very poorly during the chemotherapy treatment but being able to work on the days in between the therapy kept my mind focused.
“Colman was there throughout, holding the fort and looking after me. Sometimes people only see the person who is ill and don’t recognise how difficult it is for their partner too. Colman has been brilliant, we’re a team, we live and breathe our business and we are so proud to have won this award.”
Paul Harrison, co-founder of The Travel Franchise and Not Just Travel, added: “Rachael and Colman are a walking, talking example of resilience and success.”
The couple’s resilience was put to the test during the pandemic, not least when a £125,000 business trip to South Africa had to be postponed three times.
“We worked tirelessly during Covid to fight for refunds and never stopped fighting for our customers,” said Rachael. “We also took on extra work from our franchisor company, Not Just Travel, when other franchisees left the business.”
Colman and Rachael launched their travel business in 2013. They are both ex-West Yorkshire Police employees. Colman was a detective sergeant in Bradford for many years and Rachael was the helpdesk supervisor.
They got involved in organising trips whilst in the police – Colman was event organiser for the Bradford South Police Sports and Social Club. In that role he organised trips for thousands of police officers, staff and their families all over the world. They got the travel bug and when Colman retired there was only one new career path the couple wanted to follow.
Unusually in the travel world, Rachael and Colman give customers their personal mobile numbers and even call them back on a Sunday night if they have a query.
Colman said: “I think it’s because we both worked in the police, where you care passionately about the job that you do and you’re never really off duty in your head, that being there around the clock for our customers comes as second nature to us.”