Somerset’s best camping and caravan park
A campsite and caravan park in South Somerset has been named Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.
After winning the silver award last year, Long Hazel Park in Sparkford received the gold award at a Black Tie Zoom ceremony in March.
The park is a family business run by Alan and Pamela Walton, born and raised residents of Somerset, alongside their daughter Christina, who says she is ‘thrilled’ to receive the award to kick off the season.
Ms Walton said: “We weren’t allowed to clap because obviously if you’re clapping there are too many comments so we all jumped up and down. It was very different from last year, but just as good in its own way.
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The park obtained permission from the council to house key workers at their site and did so in their trailers or park vacation lodges throughout the pandemic.
Ms Walton said: ‘My daughter thought of it as we were wondering how we can help during the pandemic and we thought we could house the people who need to be away from home.
Ms Walton noted that inspiration came in part from the history of the park, as it was originally created to house families who found themselves homeless after World War II.
She said: “There were a lot of static trailers back then, which have since been taken away, but some of the neighbors came and said they were born in the static trailers here.
“In 2020, we were to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary with our tourists and ended up coming full circle, to help the community where we could.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Long Hazel Park hosted engineers working at Leonardo and RNAS Yeovilton, as well as Royal Navy officers, domestic violence charity workers, doctors and nurses from Yeovil Hospital, paramedics, caregivers and veterinarians.
Ms Walton noted that the next nearest caravan park offering accommodation for key workers is in Birmingham.
The park reopened to tourists on April 12 and has received many bookings from guests keen to visit family in the area.
Ms Walton said: ‘Our repeat customers have been delighted to share our success and it has already encouraged many to book again and come back to Somerset after a year of restrictions, while also inspiring many new customers to explore the area. . “
Mr and Mrs Walton bought the park in 1997, but Mrs Walton described how they never intended to own a trailer park, as her husband was working as a lawyer when they bought the company.
She said: “We didn’t know anything about it, only the fact that we used to go in a caravan ourselves, like most people with young children.
“It was all we knew and it was a really steep learning curve, but we didn’t look back. 24 years later, we are still here.
The family team used the lockdown to work on a number of upgrades to the park’s facilities, including a shower block overhaul, the addition of new serviced touring locations, and improvements to the vacation lodges.
This year, they will also be working with a local chef from Wincanton and his wife, who have started a wood-fired pizza business, which they will run from the park on Friday nights for patrons and locals alike.
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