Published: June 14, 2017
They are known as the Oscars of the tourism industry, and winning a place in the national finals of the annual VisitEngland Awards for Excellence is the dream of many a holiday park owner.
So when Trethem Mill Touring Park in Cornwall heard that they had been shortlisted for the 2017 awards, the park-owning family were naturally thrilled.
But their excitement had to be tempered with reality. For although Trethem Mill is much loved by its many loyal customers, the park is not for those seeking wall-to-wall entertainment.
Kept intentionally free of artificial attractions, Trethem Mill draws couples and families loving an away-from-it-all holiday base where the main pleasures come naturally.
This year's VisitEngland awards were held in April at the Hilton Waldorf in London, and taking their seats at the glittering ceremony were park owners Ian and Jane Akeroyd.
After the speeches and razzmatazz, it was finally time for the judges to deliver their verdicts – and the couple held their breath as the winners of the holiday parks category were announced.
It was their firm opinion, the judges said, that the park most deserving of the overall gold national award for excellence was… Trethem Mill Touring Park.
Being crowned England's top place to stay might have delighted Ian and Jane, but it's what many of their touring guests had suspected all along.
Set in 12 acres of landscaped grounds, Trethem Mill provides generously spaced pitches with gorgeous views over the surrounding Cornish countryside.
This year, Ian and Jane - together with their son Jake and Ian's father Derek – are celebrating their 25th anniversary of taking over the reins at the park.
The family, which then included Derek's wife Lorna who passed away last year, shared a passion for this glorious picture-postcard corner of the West Country.
From the outset, they were determined to create an idyllic park setting where people could enjoy a quality environment which was a match for the natural surroundings.
Not only that, the family wanted guests to remember Trethem Mill as somewhere they were assured of a genuinely warm welcome and first-class hospitality.
Equally as important, the Akeroyds were determined to run their business along sustainable lines, and to do what they could to protect the countryside and its wildlife inhabitants.
Early evidence of their success in this respect came just a few years in when world-famous botanist David Bellamy singled out the park for his prestigious conservation award.
The accolade was given to Trethem Mill at its top gold level, and has continued to be presented annually to the park in recognition of its every-growing number of conservation initiatives.
This year, Professor Bellamy highlighted the park's extensive areas of high nectar-bearing flowers which provide vital foraging for honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators,
He also praised the many wildlife habitats and nesting boxes which have been established around the grounds, providing both food and breeding resources for animals and birds.
Trethem Mill also harvests rainwater for the irrigation of plants, has low-level illumination so that guests can enjoy the night sky, and uses locally quarried stone in various features.
David Bellamy commended too the park's community involvement which includes collecting for Cornwall Air Ambulance, and providing support for local arts and flower festivals.
To its environmental awards, Trethem Mill has added a raft of other accolades won annually from regional and national tourism bodies.
In fact, the park was propelled into the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2017 after previously achieving top gold plaudits in both the Cornwall and Southwest Tourism awards.
Jane Akeroyd says such honours are especially welcome as they are given not just for the quality of the park, but also the standards of service which customers receive:
"Providing a warm welcome and a friendly atmosphere for people to enjoy their stays has always been high on our list of priorities, and we constantly try to exceed expectations," she said.
"These points are often mentioned in our online reviews from customers, including the increasing number of families who come to Trethem Mill from mainland Europe.
"Hospitality and quality of service also form two important considerations in the VisitEngland awards, so naturally we are delighted that the judges were impressed with what we've created here.
"Gaining this award was a fantastic way to start off the holiday season, and it's made us all the more determined to raise the bar even higher this year," she added.
Trethem Mill, says Jane, is a proud member of the Best of British group which she regards as a valuable resource for people seeking a quality assurance when they make their bookings.
Best of British holiday parks comprise family-owned businesses across the UK which achieve high standards of excellence across a range of criteria considered most important by guests.
More details about Trethem Mill can be found on its website at www.trethem.com
Pride of Cornwall: Relaxing at the park after VisitEngland awards are (front) Jake Akeroyd with (left to right at rear) park groundsman Theo Forman, Jane Akeroyd, Derek Akeroyd, and Ian Akeroyd. Georgie the dog shares the limelight.