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Park team raises smiles and a charity windfall

Silverdale park staff and local residents with some of the knitted gifts for Cumbria's "Boxes of Hope" appeal
Silverdale park staff and local residents with some of the knitted gifts for Cumbria’s “Boxes of Hope” appeal

[E]nterprising staff at a south Cumbria holiday parks group have been praised for taking on a series of charity challenges this year which have raised both smiles and cash.

Michael Holgate, owner of the Holgates Group, said his team’s “amazing imagination” had bolstered a raft of different good causes through their hard work and fundraising.

Over the past 12 months, many of the 135 staff at Holgates’ six holiday parks – including its flagship Silverdale park – pitched into a succession of lighthearted charity initiatives.

They included a marathon knit-in which saw more than 600 woolly items – from hats and mittens to puppets and jumpers – being produced for the Cumbria “Boxes of Hope” appeal.

The charity sends out colourful shoe boxes full of gifts at Christmas to deprived children in Eastern Europe, and local residents and park guests helped to swell Holgates’ contribution.

In autumn, staff all turned up for work dressed in bright pink – and decorated the park reception to match – for a weekend of fundraising in support of breast cancer research.

Staff look pretty in pink in support of breast cancer research
Staff look pretty in pink in support of breast cancer research

A few weeks later, holidaymakers marvelled at the sight of everyone in purple plumage as staff took part in a national awareness day for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

The charity has special significance for the park as Michael’s father, Frank Holgate, passed away from the disease in January 2015.

Frank was an early pioneer of holiday parks in the Lake District, and his original business – Silverdale park – is marking its sixtieth anniversary this year.

Staff also rolled their sleeves up to help worthwhile causes in other ways, from charity bake-offs to fitness challenges in the park’s gym and sponsored sporting activities.

“There’s been an almost non-stop flow of ideas from staff this year on different ways to support and raise cash for local and national appeals – and they’ve all had our backing,” said Michael.

“Imaginative fundraising events help to create a real buzz on our parks, and we’ve been delighted at how people in the local communities as well as holiday guests have been keen to join in.

“We’ve now challenged everyone to come up with even more charity show-stoppers for next year, and I suspect we’ll be in for quite a few surprises!” he added.

Not that Michael’s business is itself any stranger to helping good causes, and has close links with many local communities and organisations to which it provides assistance.

Recent initiatives range from funding the annual Arnside children’s Christmas party to taking the lead in bringing high-speed broadband to the village of Hope near Milnthorpe.

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