We're sending big congratulations this week to Thomas Marshall, the director of North Yorkshire's Riverside Caravan Park, who is now heading up the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) which represents Britain's £9.3 billion holiday parks industry.
Thomas, whose park has been a longstanding member of the Best of British Holiday Parks group, has been elected as national chairman of the BH&HPA. The association brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 parks across the UK.
Thomas and his family are currently celebrating the fiftieth year since Riverside Caravan Park in Bentham first started welcoming holiday guests to the Yorkshire Dales. In his new role, Thomas will take on a range of responsibilities, including liaising with government ministers and departments on issues affecting the parks industry. It's a task for which he is well qualified having served as the association's vice chairman for the past three years, as well as its regional branch director for 20 years.
Like many parks within the Best of British group, Thomas's Riverside Caravan Park in High Bentham has been family owned for successive generations. It evolved from a beef and sheep farm into a multi-award winning holiday park providing over 250 holiday caravans plus 110 touring pitches.
The business, which also owns the 18-hole Bentham Golf Course is today run by Thomas with the help of his wife Jane, daughter Isabel, and son John. Thomas says he is proud to be taking the reins of the park industry's 65-year-old official body, and sees significant new opportunities on the horizon for the sector:
"During two challenging years of the pandemic, parks fluctuated between coping with enforced closures and unprecedented demand for domestic holidays," he said.
"As we emerge from the crisis, it's becoming clear that many families are keen to continue enjoying a UK holiday experience in the relaxed environment which parks provide.
"But this also presents us with the challenge of ensuring that we carry on delivering a high quality and constantly evolving product to ensure the staycation trend continues.
"I've every confidence we can succeed, and BH&HPA provides the perfect platform on which we can all come together to share our knowledge and experiences in order to help each other.
"Important too will be the association's longstanding role of promoting the principles of green tourism and engaging with local communities," said Thomas.
Thomas is himself actively involved in local affairs including 24 years of office on Bentham Town Council where he has served as chairman and mayor on three separate occasions. He also actively supports many local good causes, from the village's alms house committee, to helping organise community events such as the annual carnival, and fundraising for various causes.
Recent developments at Riverside Caravan Park have included a £1.5 million investment in new luxury holiday lodges, plus additional fully-equipped glamping pods.