The school holiday company that disappointed dozens of Chulmleigh College youngsters by cancelling a dream ski trip 24 hours before departure says it is "very sorry".

Students were told last Friday that their holiday in Italy wasn't happening.

Trip organiser Halsbury Travel said an "administrative error" meant coach bookings had not been confirmed and they were forced to cancel a small number of school trips at short notice.

In an email statement they said: "Our team worked tirelessly to try to find alternative means of transport, but this proved unsuccessful.

"We have been providing school trips for more than 40 years and this is the first time we have had to cancel under such circumstances. "

The statement continued: “We are very sorry to have disappointed those who have been affected and we are doing everything possible to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. All customers will receive a 100% refund and additional compensation, as well as discounts on future bookings. The money will be paid in full into the bank accounts of affected schools prior to the Easter weekend holiday.”

The Chulmleigh College holiday was to Sestriere in Italy’s western Alps, near the French border. It had been organised 14 months ago and was cancelled on Friday (March 31), less than 24 hours before departure.

The school academy trust said "pupils accepted the news in a meeting showing enormous maturity."

"Teachers attempted to call every family. Letters emails and texts were sent. The travel agent cancelled shortly before the end of the day," it said.