A COUPLE from Stroud have cancelled a dream holiday due to concerns about the environmental impact of flying.

Al Venables, 75, who lives in Cainscross with his partner Jane Hobdell, has been obsessed with the Aleutian Islands in Alaska since he was 11-years-old.

A retired university lecturer in microbiology and genetics, Al first came across the islands when he saw a film about the wildlife there, 64 years ago.

“I’ve always been into wildlife, and I was fascinated by the Aleutians,” he said.

“They are a chain of islands in south west Alaska, at the bottom of Bering sea.

“They’re volcanic but no longer active.

“In back of my mind there has always been the thought ‘one day I’ll go there’.

“I’m 75 now, so on and off for 64 years I’ve been thinking about it.”

Al’s partner Jane was well aware of his long held dream to visit the islands, so when she saw an advert for a cruise there, she suggested they go.

“So we booked two tickets.

“It wasn’t cheap, we had to put down a £3,000 non returnable deposit.”

Al is no stranger to visiting remote places, having previously travelled to Antarctica and the Arctic.

He now gives talks about the wildlife he has seen there.

“I’m also interested in how the ice is retreating, and concerned about the climate,” he said.

Having witnessed at first hand the impact of climate change in the polar regions, Al is now a committed environmental campaigner.

Jane is too, and the pair are both active members of Extinction Rebellion.

“When we began to think about it, we couldn’t reconcile the fact that the trip started with a long haul flight to Vancouver,” said Al.

“With the current climate crisis and the need for us all to reduce our carbon footprints, we felt bound by our consciences not to take any further long-haul flights.

“And although Jane and I were greatly looking forward to the cruise, after a great deal of soul searching we decided we were going to cancel.”

Fully aware that they would be losing their £3,000 deposit, the couple contacted the travel company, explaining that they wanted to cancel their booking for environmental reasons.

“They told me they understood and respected our reasons and because of that they would be happy to return to 50 per cent of our deposit,” said Al.

“That was very good of them.

“I felt quite touched by it.”

Jane added: “We went on holiday in a railway carriage in Cornwall instead, which was lovely.”