Great Grandfather Airlifted Home After Contracting Legionnaires’ Disease During Bulgarian Break

Expert Travel Lawyers Investigating Conditions At Sunny Days Hotel and Apartments


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A Grandfather who was hospitalised for almost eight weeks and forced to learn to walk again after contracting Legionnaires’ disease while on holiday in Bulgaria has instructed expert travel illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate conditions at the hotel he stayed in.

Colin Cookson, 72, and his wife Iris, 66, booked a two-week stay at the Sunny Days Hotel and Apartment complex in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, through Balkan Holidays.

The couple, from Billingham, Cleveland, had stayed at the four-star hotel on a number of previous occasions and were looking forward to returning in August 2015, but just five days after arriving at the resort, Colin began to suffer flu-like symptoms. 

The following day he sought treatment from a local medical centre where he was put on an IV drip and diagnosed with a chest infection.

On 18th August Colin began experiencing pains in his back and chest and returned to the medical centre where doctors sent him for an x-ray. He was given further oral medication and told he had pneumonia.

The following day his condition had deteriorated further and Colin was struggling to breathe.

His condition got so bad that he was admitted to hospital in Burgas, around 40 kilometres away from the resort, he was in hospital for six days before being flown home to the UK by air ambulance.

The former stage rigger was taken to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough where he was intubated and diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

After five weeks he was transferred to North Tees Hospital where he spent another fortnight convalescing before being well enough to return home. 

Five months after he first experienced symptoms, Colin is yet to return to full health and claims his stamina has been affected by the illness. 

Colin has struggled to learn to walk again, after suffering muscle wastage as a result of his illness, and still relies on crutches to get around. 

The couple claim the air conditioner in their room was not working properly and that Balkan Holidays failed to provide support to Iris, who was left to struggle on her own after Colin was taken ill.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria and usually develops after breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

The couple has now instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the problems they suffered at the Sunny Days Hotel and Apartment complex to help them find answers about what caused Colin to develop such a devastating illness.

Expert Opinion
This case highlights just how serious Legionnaires’ disease is and the potential complications that can arise as a result. We have begun our own investigations into how Colin contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

We are asking anyone who stayed at the hotel last summer to contact us as they may be able to help us with our inquiries.

It is not just their holiday which was ruined; this couple’s lives have been turned upside down as a result of the illness. It has had a huge impact on them, both physically and emotionally, and they deserve answers about what caused this terrible illness.
Clare Pearson, Associate

Colin, a Great Grandfather said: “The Sunny Days Hotel and Apartment complex has become a home from home for us after visiting over the course of so many years and it very upsetting that we’ve had such a bad experience following our stay there.

“The illness has taken its toll and I am still not back to my old self. It’s not just me that has suffered,  my wife has had to spend a lot of time looking after me. The whole ordeal was very difficult and frightening for my wife who was left struggling to cope on her own, in a foreign country, after I had fallen so ill.

“We need answers and want to ensure that, if possible, no one else has to suffer like we have.”