A PENSIONER from Rhyl who become an overnight celebrity in Benidorm has added an extra week to his holiday at the Spanish resort after he did not make his flight home.

Derek Flynn, 88, flew to Benidorm alone on February 5, returning to his and his late wife’s favourite holiday destination for the first time since her death.

For three weeks, Derek was bombarded by holidaymakers wanting pictures with him after his friend, Nigel Hobdey, reached out on Facebook to ask tourists to take care of him.


Rhyl man, 88, becomes Benidorm celebrity after flying solo for holiday

Rhyl man, 88, enjoys karaoke during ‘dream’ solo holiday of Benidorm

Nigel had arranged for a representative of airline Jet2 to look after Derek at Alicante Airport, before airport assistance were then supposed to see him on to his flight home yesterday (February 27).

But after Derek did not make it on to his plane back to Manchester, where Nigel had driven to meet him, he has now booked an additional seven days in Benidorm.

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Nigel said: “Because he has short-term memory loss, we booked him airport assistance, who are supposed to stick to you like glue until you get on the plane.

“I spoke to the rep this morning, who said he was at the airport, but that was it. Jet2 can only take him as far as the gate; it’s not their fault.

Rhyl Journal: Derek with new friends in BenidormDerek with new friends in Benidorm (Image: Benidorm Seriously)

“He was apparently at the gate for 40 minutes. He’s then probably gone for a wander, forgotten all about it, and ended up missing his flight.

“Meanwhile, I’m at Manchester Airport, the phone rings, and it’s Jet2 saying: ‘Derek didn’t get on the flight’.

“He’s the most photographed man in Spain at the moment, but they couldn’t find him in an airport which isn’t even that big?”

The former miner had been “living his dream” during his holiday, with Nigel, 61, having helped him book his travel and hotel, as well as agreeing to drop him off and pick up from Manchester Airport.

Rhyl Journal: Derek enjoying karaoke (left) and with a hen party (right) in BenidormDerek enjoying karaoke (left) and with a hen party (right) in Benidorm (Image: Benidorm Seriously)

Derek and Nigel had become friends in the last six months after getting to know each other in the bookmakers in Rhyl they both frequent.

He is now due to fly back to the UK on March 6, meaning he will have spent more than one month in Benidorm.

Nigel added: “Someone’s got to be accountable for this. I’ve gone and bent over backwards to make sure my friend from the bookies gets home.

“People said: ‘Why don’t you fly out to get him?’; I said: ‘Give me a grand and I will’.”

Richard Witter, who lives and works in Benidorm, took the below videos of Derek enjoying himself at karaoke last week.

He enjoyed meeting and talking to Derek earlier in his holiday, and caught up with him again last night after he had missed his flight.

Richard said: “He is OK; we are all looking after him. He knows me, and likes to talk to me.

“He is still close to me, so I like to look after him. He will always be OK here.”

Rhyl Journal: Richard and Derek last night, after Derek had missed his flight homeRichard and Derek last night, after Derek had missed his flight home (Image: Richard Witter)

Members of the Benidorm Seriously Facebook group, which boasts more than 160,000 members, have taken Derek under their wings following Nigel’s post on the page.

It has been his first time back in Benidorm since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He will spend the next week at the Sol Pelícanos Ocas hotel, having previously been staying at the Servigroup Pueblo hotel since the start of his holiday.

Holidaymakers, thrilled to have met Derek, have likened him to Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, Nigel added.

Nigel told the Journal last week: “He’s got about 200 friends over there – they walk him home every night.

“He gets up at 10am and gets back in at 2am – I don’t know where he gets the energy, but he's living the dream.”

Attempts were made to contact Jet2 and Alicante Airport for comment.