Four green golds for Lake District parks group

Green champion: Silverdale (above) was among the Holgates parks praised by Professor David Bellamy

Green champion: Silverdale (above) was among the Holgates parks praised by Professor David Bellamy

Staff at a South Cumbria holiday parks group are celebrating after winning four top environmental awards from TV botanist David Bellamy.

Four parks in membership of the Holgates group, including its flagship Silverdale holiday park, have received the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.

Each park was subjected to an independent wildlife audit commissioned by Professor Bellamy, and judged to be making exceptional achievements in helping to safeguard the natural world.

Announcing the award this autumn, David Bellamy described Holgates as “fantastic flag-wavers for the causes of green tourism where nature is given the same VIP treatment as guests”.

Holgates works closely with red squirrel protection groups

Holgates works closely with red squirrel protection groups

As well as Silverdale park near Arnside, golds were also given to neighbouring Hollins Farm park, Silver Ridge park near Milnthorpe, and Bay View park near Carnforth.

Across all the parks, said David Bellamy, a raft of imaginative initiatives demonstrated that the company was a true friend of the countryside and a champion of conservation.

Among the measures he praised was the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs on the parks to provide valuable habitats and food and breeding resources for wildlife.

He highlighted too the creation of many wildflower areas where high nectar-bearing blooms attract honey bees and a wide range of common and less familiar butterflies.

Holgates, noted David Bellamy, worked closely with a wide range of bodies such as the RSPB and local red squirrel protection groups to make its parks havens for many protected species.

Traditional countryside practises such as hedge laying coppicing and dry stone walling – carried out by local craftspeople – also helped maintain the parks’ wildlife-friendly characters.

Other measures included the harvesting of rainwater for irrigation, shielded illumination so that guests can enjoy the night sky, and the siting of many bat, owl and bird boxes.

Holgates also adopt many different energy conservation steps to minimise the parks’ carbon footprint, including a super-efficient woodchip boiler for heating Silverdale’s swimming pool.

Professor Bellamy also praised the close links the parks enjoys with local schools and other community bodies, and the emphasis put on locally sourced food in its shops and restaurants.

Nectar-bearing blooms attract honey bees and butterflies

Nectar-bearing blooms attract honey bees and butterflies

Michael Holgate, whose family business is this year marking its 60th anniversary, said that safeguarding the natural world has long been an important facet of the group’s activities:

“Our conservation work is very much a team effort, and we encourage all our staff to contribute new ideas on how to protect the amazing flora and fauna of our parks.

“This results in a constant stream of fresh initiatives, and of course also makes the parks even more attractive to holiday guests by encouraging them to make new wildlife discoveries.

“We’re delighted with these four awards, and it’s given us a real boost to know that we have the support of someone like David Bellamy behind us,” said Michael.

But that wasn’t the end of Holgates’ accolades this autumn, for news also came through that Silverdale had won a top platinum prize in the 2016 Loo of the Year awards.

It was made after the park’s shower and toilet facilities were mystery shopped by inspectors – confirming, said Michel, that Silverdale was indeed the best pace to “go” in Cumbria.

There is more information about Silverdale Holiday Park, and the five other Cumbria and North Lancashire parks belonging to the Holgates group, at www.holgates.co.uk

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