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Hunstanton's Searles Leisure Resort chief crowned 'holiday hero' at Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards

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Searles Leisure Resort of Hunstanton took home two top honours from the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards.

The park was named as overall winner of the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year award and its director Paul Searle was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award for his longstanding services to the tourism industry.

The award, sponsored by holiday bookings giant Hoseasons, recognised Paul's commitment to the visitor sector not just at his own park, but across East Anglia.

Paul Searle is pictured with his award and, from left, Joanne Searle, Eleanor Searle and Paul's wife Vicky
Paul Searle is pictured with his award and, from left, Joanne Searle, Eleanor Searle and Paul's wife Vicky

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 results were announced at Kesgrave Hall in Suffolk by ceremony host David Whiteley from BBC's Inside Out.

Paul said: "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.

"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."

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.

Among the accolades Searles has received over the years was the gold David Bellamy Conservation Award for its 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.

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