Our January meeting was enlivened by the visit of four of the staff of Church Farm Holiday Village, Pagham church’s next-door neighbour. The holiday park has grown over many decades, from a few caravans on former church land in the 1940s to a thriving complex of hundreds of luxury holiday homes. It is run by Haven, which has nearly 40 parks across the UK, most of which have achieved a Green Tourism award. (Haven is part of Bourne Leisure, which also owns Butlins and Warner Leisure hotels.) Church Farm has 5* status, one of only a handful in Haven, and has achieved first place in Team Engagement in 36 Haven parks four years in a row. It accommodates 4000 guests daily during the summer, and has an annual income of £20 million, making £6 million profit. It also supports charity work, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
This success would not be possible without a lot of hard graft and teamwork. Andy Pope, the general manager, gave us a fascinating insight into this important issue. He has been in the holiday industry all his working life, first in his birthplace, Canada, then in Europe. He is now very happily settled in the UK. Life in the industry has changed massively over the last few decades, as some guests’ expectations exceed their appreciation of top quality resources in one site. Andy also pointed out that young people’s work ethic has also changed. His aim is to instil a clear understanding of good working practices in the temporary young workers needed during busy months.
We then heard from Mateusz Dolata, the complex manager. He too came from abroad to work in the UK, but more recently. He’s now settled in Pagham with his wife, after their wedding in Poland during the Christmas holidays. Mateusz has experience of working in several countries, and was keen to express his appreciation for the governance of the UK and its many resources. He told us that Church Farm is the best site he has worked on, and Abby Hollis, the restaurant manager, agreed. She has worked in many UK holiday sites, often overworking, but things are different at Pagham. Staff are required to take time off and ensure they get enough rest, and this makes for good teamwork as well as efficiency. The fourth speaker was Matt Mitchell, in charge of security. He has an army background, and we could see how important that discipline must be. But like his colleagues, he has a warm and friendly manner, a vital requirement in this environment. All four of our visitors clearly love living and working in this area.
The Ladies’ Club members and guests were pleased to know more about Church Farm, which is so important for our local economy, and were reassured by the team’s efforts to maintain a good standing with their neighbours. These include Pagham Church members, who are building on friendly relations established over many years with staff and holidaymakers. Church Farm features in the Church’s cycle of Prayers and Intentions on the 12th of the month. Copies of our weekly Pews News and monthly Good News leaflets are displayed in their reception area, so that residents and staff can be aware of what is happening next door. We hope to continue supporting each other in making Pagham an even better place to live, work and play!
Alison Blenkinsop, January 2020