Photograph: (Left to Right) Carol Gerrard-Hughes and daughter Sophie at Forest View
Carol Gerrard-Hughes has realised a childhood dream by investing £300,000 to improve the Forest View pub and caravan site in Oakmere, Northwich using a Business Finance loan from Reward Finance Group.
Carol fell in love with the site when her parents bought a caravan when she was six and the family spent weekends and school holidays at Forest View. At 13, she started washing up in the pub, then worked behind the bar and, ultimately, finished up running it.
Realising her ambition to own Forest View has not been easy. Having bought the tenancy for the pub and the site in 2007, she was advised by pub operator and owner, Scottish and Newcastle, that they were planning to sell the site to a housing developer in 2009. To prevent this from happening, she moved quickly and bought the whole lot from them.
As well as the pub, the site has 45 static caravans and 26 touring pitches.
Recognising the potential for Forest View, which overlooks Delamere Forest, Carol was keen to make a significant investment in the site. Her plans were to extend and refurbish the pub, build a new toilet block, create 20 more touring pitches, provide additional electrical points for the caravans, as well as landscaping and tidying up the site to further enhance its appeal.
Despite the equity in the site, none of the banks would lend her the money to carry out her plans.
However, Matthews Sutton & Co Accountants in Liverpool introduced Carol to Reward Finance Group, who quickly provided the funds having been impressed with Carol’s enthusiasm and tenacity, as well as her plans for the site and the additional revenue this would generate.
With the works now complete, Carol is already reaping the rewards with all the static caravans occupied and the touring pitches fully booked for this year. Planning permission has also just been granted for an additional 27 tent pitches.
“When the banks would not support me, I was close to putting everything on the market and selling up,” Carol said. “However, Reward saw the passion I had for the site and Russell Holt and the Reward team worked tirelessly to provide me with the funds to turn my childhood dreams into reality.
“My parents and two siblings spent some wonderful holidays and getaways here and, from being my second home, it has now turned into my real home for my husband Mike and our six children. I am also delighted my eldest daughter Sophie is my new business partner, and I am very excited about the future, now that it is secured.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming people to Forest View from 12 April when it is proposed that people will be able to start caravanning and camping again and sit outside our pub.”
Reward’s Business Development Director for the North West, Russell Holt, added,
“The money we have lent to Carol has been invested wisely as it has transformed the site, making it a real destination for holidaymakers, especially with the rise in ‘staycations’, and a great place for people who live in the static caravans.
“The pub has traditionally served those on site but now the improvements have been made it will definitely attract people from the local area too.
“By being flexible we were able to provide Carol with the funds quickly to ensure the pub and the site fulfil their true potential, resulting in an extremely successful business.”