Hundreds of holidaymakers have been devastated by the collapse of Hatts, which has left them out of pocket and with no trip to look forward to.

Up to 1,000 people had made bookings and the joint administrators FRP Advisory said they had received “very many calls” to their helpline, though would not specify an exact number.

Many who have paid by cash or cheque are unlikely to see their money again, as the Wiltshire firm was not ABTA protected and did not appear to have any travel security bond because of a lack of money.

An FRP Advisory spokesman said: “This is something the joint administrators have become aware of and as part of their normal statutory duties will be investigated.”

The receivers told Wiltshire Council last Wednesday that Hatts was insolvent. Some customers have said their money was accepted by the company in the last few weeks.

Ann Helmore, who teaches line dancing at Kington St Michael and Derry Hill, runs a holiday to the Isle of Wight with Hatts called Holly & Mistletoe and had 72 people booked to go, aged between 50 and 86.

Mrs Helmore, 68, of Corsham, said: “We are all devastated. One of the passengers paid in full by cheque a fortnight ago.

"It puts a bad taste in your mouth. It was a complete shock, I thought they were just cruising along.

"Everything was hunky-dory and then, bang. Everyone just cannot believe it.

“I really don't know what will happen now, I am getting so many phone calls and emails asking what is going to happen. It’s a very, very sad end to an era.”

Debbie Wild, 46, of the Redland area in Chippenham, was looking forward to a weekend in Weymouth. She walks with a stick and had saved up for it with her disability benefit.

She said: “My friend had breast cancer seven years ago and hadn’t had a proper break and we decided we’d do this.

“We went to Foxham four weeks ago and paid the balance in cash. They would have known; it is really a bitter pill to swallow. We haven’t got the money now to do anything else.”

The joint administrators are advising people who paid by credit or debit card go back to the card providers, under their statutory rights provided by the Consumer Credit Act. The helpline number is is 0800 470 4633.

* Since publication Mrs Helmore's passenger has discovered her cheque was not cashed.