THREE Derry friends who found themselves stranded in the Welsh mountains were offered the use of a caravan owned by former British home secretary Jacqui Smith.
The trio — Paul McErlean, 23, and Charlie Coward from Derry, and Andreas Maltan from Austria but living in Derry — were hiking on the Snowdonia Way in North Wales.
But during the long day’s trek Paul received a text saying he'd tested positive for Covid.
This extremely unwelcome news meant that the trio couldn’t stay at the campsite they had booked, couldn’t go to the shops, couldn’t get transport; they were in effect stranded.
Paul tweeted: “Advice needed Me + 2 lads are hiking in Wales, just got a positive COVID test 20 mins ago. Cant stay at the planned campsite tonight, have nowhere to isolate and already know every b&b etc is booked up. No accommodation, no transport and just finished a near 30km hike. What to do?”
Paul's message was retweeted by two Derry girls, and former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith spotted it.
The former Labour cabinet minister offered them the use of her caravan for the men to isolate in.
“When Paul's plight was brought to my attention, and I realised how close he was to where the caravan was, I couldn't leave him wandering the Welsh mountains,” she told the BBC.
“I was more than happy to offer them the chance to stay there, but also very pleased they were able to find accommodation.
“I've got two boys in their 20s myself, and I'd hate the idea that nobody would help them if they found themselves in a similar position.”
In the event, the magnanimous offer wasn’t required.
A business contact of Paul’s father in Warrington was able to pick the lads up and let them isolate in a vacant property in Cheshire.