The real Alan Bates was left fighting back tears after being surprised with a dream holiday by Sir Richard Branson.
New four part ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office has raised more awareness of the subpostmaster’s fight for justice after 700 Post Office branch managers were accused of wrongdoing between 1999 and 2015 due to faulty accounting software.
With dozens of innocent people jailed for theft and fraud – and others driven to bankruptcy and, tragically, suicide – Alan has spent years tracking down others who were wrongly accused, and has taken the Post Office to the High Court.
Since the drama hit the airwaves, more people have become aware of their plight, and Alan’s long struggle, including the Virgin founder, who caught wind of the subpostmaster’s tongue in cheek request for a summer holiday.
During Monday’s episode of This Morning, hosts Craig Doyle and Josie Gibson revealed they had been in touch with Sir Richard, and read out his response to Alan and his supportive wife Suzanne.
‘Dear Alan, I did get a chance to read your moving interview in The Times, and we’d love to offer you and Suzanne a well earned holiday on Necker Island,’ he wrote.
Alan bates and his wife Suzanne were overwhelmed (Picture: ITV)
Sir Richard Branson wanted to do something for the couple (Picture: Roberto Finizio/Getty Images)
‘I can’t think of anyone who deserves a break more. Hopefully see you there. Best, Richard.’
Alan was visibly choked up as the note was read out, but he was beaming as his wife squeezed his arm with a huge smile on her face.
The couple also found out they would be getting upper class return flights, as well as a Mediterranean cruise from Virgin Voyagers this summer.
‘Wow,’ Suzanne said, while Alan quipped: ‘Thank you very much Richard! Much appreciated! Much needed, but very much appreciated.’
Toby Jones plays Alan in Mr Bates vs the Post Office (Picture: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
Viewers were delighted by the kind gesture towards the couple – played by Toby Jones and Julie Hesmondhalgh in the ITV drama – and felt it was well deserved.
‘Aww I’m not crying you are 😢 so well deserved for Mr Bates & his partner Suzanne. Hope they have an amazing time 🥳😍 #ThisMorning,’ wrote @Mysti211.
X user @TheeQueenJay1 added: ”They deserve the holiday and the cruise, they have worked so hard so that many of the sub postmasters get justice. 🙌🏿
‘God bless them and everyone who’s been affected by this terrible scandal by the post office and the government. #thismorning’
‘Aw 💔 him welling up has got me tearing up. Enjoy your holiday #thismorning,’ said @fuzzybeepants, while @vanessahodgesd tweeted: ‘I hope they have a wonderful holiday #thismorning’.
This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV1.
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