National Rail's Ultimate Family Summer

31st August 2018

When research from National Rail revealed that 1 in 10 families wouldn’t be spending any time with each other this summer, with the majority of parents spending just 4 hours a day with their children during the 6-week school summer holiday, they asked the public to put forward families they thought should be treated to the ultimate family summer.

After receiving over 100 entries, and unable to pick just one winner, the following five families will be enjoying an ultimate family summer, on behalf of National Rail and Merlin. Each of these families have been recognised for being inspiring, compassionate, supportive, courageous and in need of being able to enjoy some quality time with their family.


The Rigby Family, from Stoke-on-Trent – Nominated by Dee Edwards

The Rigby family turned a horrific event in their life it to something positive to help other families. They were nominated by their friend Dee Edwards. Dee explained:

“I have met many brave and incredible parents during this time but never anyone who had to endure the worst possible loss coupled with the fact it was so public and so high profile. To be thrown into the limelight the way Lyn and her family were is unimaginable. I don't think many of us could have carried ourselves with so much dignity while dealing with their grief and the media surrounding them nonstop. Throughout the entire court case and beyond they have held their heads up and supported each other. Lyn and Ian channelled their energy and grief into building a lasting legacy for Lee in a positive way. The Lee Rigby Foundation was given charitable status in April 2016. I am very proud to know Lyn and her family and I am sure Lee is watching over them with pride too.”

The Simmonds Family, from Grantham – Nominated by Tim O’Leary

The Simmonds family have been never given up on their dreams, despite the challenges that life has thrown and them. They were nominated by their friends Sarah and Tim O’Leary. Tim explained:

“Tom and Debbie moved to Grantham in 2008 as they wanted to start their own business. Having carried out their research they chose Grantham due to the geographical location, lack of a music shop and somewhere where they could keep costs down. They bought a house close to the town centre and Tom opened Simmonds music in a leased shop on Westgate. The business was going well, Tom and Debbie got engaged and they had a baby girl. Life was good for the family.

Around early 2015, Tom had a fall whilst walking the dog. This happened again a few weeks later but then pain started to be a regular occurrence. After numerous visits to the doctors, he managed to go to see a specialist in London. In 2017 Tom was diagnosed with Fibro Mialga, but Tom had been taking more and more time off work due to the pain and the business started suffering. The sad thing is that due to the loans they had taken out, the only option they had left was to file for bankruptcy, but the situation became worse because they had secured loans on the business with their home. They are now selling their home and will be moving into rented accommodation. I admire them for how they’ve dealt with everything they’ve been through as they are truly an inspiration”

The Baggett Family, from Derby – Nominated by Daniella Thomas

The Baggett family have been recognised for being courageous and incredibly strong, despite all of the challenges life keeps throwing at them. Mum Sammie, was nominated by her godmother Daniella who explained:

Sam is inspiring, compassionate, supportive and courageous. In her nomination Daniella explained that Sam had had a challenging childhood, and is constantly doing whatever it takes to make sure her kids, Lillie and Ryan, don’t miss out. Sam only has 18% overall kidney function, and despite living every day with infections she strong and determined in trying to create a better life for her gorgeous children Riley and Lillie, who both have health issues but lead as normal life as possible thanks to their mum – who is also studying for a degree. Just days before their trip to London, Sammie was admitted to hospital. Her brave daughter Lillie (aged 2) opened the door to the ambulance crew. Sammie is now waiting for an operation to help improve her quality of life and the time she has with her children.”

The Yeoh Family, from Notting Hill – Nominated by Allyson Sleight

The Yeoh family have been a massive support and inspiration in their local community. They were nominated by their friend Allyson, who found them through a London based social group for young autistic transport enthusiasts.

Allyson explained: I met Anoushka after she set up Transport Sparks. Transport Sparks is a social group for mainly London-based young autistic transport enthusiasts and their families. The aim of Transport Sparks is to increase social opportunities for young autistic people who love London's transport. She is an amazing lady. Her elder son Spike is Autistic and has a huge love of transport (trains in particular) which is where the idea of Transport Sparks came from. She has a wonderful family and is constantly doing amazing work to help other people.”

The McMahon Family, from Newcastle – Nominated by Jennifer Steele

The McMahon family are strong and courageous after having had to adapt to a huge lifestyle change after a motorcycle accident led to Nick suffering from a head injury, which led to him losing his memory and becoming epileptic. They were nominated by their friend Jennifer Steele, who explained: “Nick, Emma, Connor and Ryan are the sweetest, kindest people, and cope so well as a team following Nick’s accident and resulting brain damage. He often forgets who they are and even what happened yesterday and he cannot remember family holidays or experiences, which can be hurtful and frustrating for Emma and the boys, and impacts on their daily lives. Nick now relies heavily on taking photos of everything they do together which doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to remember those occasions, but at least he is reassured looking back, that they are a happy family unit who can and do enjoy doing things together. A big change in their lifestyle, with both parents having had to give up jobs because of this condition, has resulted in them not being able to have as many trips as they would like in order to create those new experiences, which are needed for them all to get away and enjoy fun family time, and for Nick to record through the photographs.”


Each of these families have been given complimentary rail travel and entry to attractions across Britain, so they can enjoy the ultimate family summer. Attractions included the London Eye, SEA LIFE London, and Madame Tussauds as well as Warwick Castle and Thorpe Park and much more courtesy of Merlin. Head over to Days Out Guide to access 2FOR1 offers on all the amazing attractions.