Two top distinctions saw Searles Leisure Resort of Hunstanton go under the spotlight at this year’s Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards.
At the glittering annual celebration of the region’s top tourism businesses, the park was named as overall winner of the Camping, Glamping & Holiday Park of the Year award.
But judges still had another accolade to present to the park, and it came in the form of a very special individual honour for its director Paul Searle.
In front of VIP guests from across the two counties, Paul received the Outstanding Contribution Award for his longstanding services to the tourism industry.
Sponsored by holiday bookings giant Hoseasons, the award celebrates Paul’s tireless efforts to champion the visitor sector not just at his own park, but across East Anglia.
Searles is one of Norfolk’s largest and most popular holiday centres which Paul manages in partnership with his brother Andrew and sister Joanna.
Paul said he was “absolutely thrilled” when the Outstanding Contribution award was announced at Kesgrave Hall in Suffolk by ceremony host David Whiteley from BBC’s Inside Out.
“Our family has been running Searles for over sixty years, and we are immensely proud of the value we bring to the local economy and employment,” he said.
“That’s also true of the many high quality tourism enterprises which flourish in Norfolk and Suffolk, and which provide a fantastic holiday experience for visitors.
“A lot of these, like ours, are long-established family businesses and have never been afraid to invest to ensure we stay at the top of the game in the domestic tourism market.
“But we are also aware that our success couldn’t be achieved with the support of our loyal, hard-working staff, so they must share the credit for our two honours in these awards,” added Paul.
Searles was founded in 1954 by Paul’s grandfather, Geoffrey, and began life as a modest touring park where a pitch could be exchanged in return for a bag of potatoes.
Successive generations of the Searle family have put their own stamp on the park’s character, and added to the range of facilities, attractions and accommodation options.
Today, Searles provides more than 500 privately owned and rented caravan holiday homes and lodges, as well as 300-plus touring pitches plus luxury timber camping pods.
The park employs around 200 people, plus an addition 50 staff at its Heacham Manor hotel which was converted by Searles from a listed Elizabethan building.
Not that Searles is any stranger to awards, and its many accolades include the gold David Bellamy Conservation Award for its raft of initiatives to protect the natural world.
Paul is married to Vicky, and the couple have two children. Paul’s sporting interests include hockey, in which he has competed at senior regional league level, as well as cricket and golf.