Owning a glamping site was my and my husband’s dream… I’ve…

Owning a glamping site was my and my husband’s dream… I’ve…

Couple’s longed-for business that would see them spend more time together finally came true, just months before he passed away

But with Bridie working as a speech and language therapist with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, and Patrick running his own chimney sweeping business — not to mention the couple having three young daughters to care for — it always felt like their dream was just out of reach.

Determined, though, to start a new chapter in their lives, the couple had the idea of opening a glamping site on their small holding — and the doors of Pine Tree Hollow Glamping in Co Down opened in August 2018.

However, what should have been a joyous occasion was tinged with sadness, as Patrick had been diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier that year, just as work had commenced on the cabins.

“Patrick’s diagnosis in April 2018 was devastating for us, but our close friends and family rallied round us and work on the site gave us both a focus while Patrick was undergoing treatment,” she says.

“Being a gifted joiner, Patrick worked tirelessly with friends to get the site ready in time, but he sadly passed away just four months after we greeted our first guests in December 2018.

Pine Tree Hollow Glamping’s Yurt

“Patrick’s wish was always to see the site opened — and I am so grateful he got to do this. He’s still very much part of the business, having been involved in the design and build of almost every bit of it.

“When I’m alone at the site, everywhere I look conjures up so many special memories of him working here, like the outdoor kitchen unit at our Yurt that he spent hours making out of wine bottles, along with one of his best friends.”

Bridie worked as a speech and language therapist in the NHS for 22 years and in 2016, decided to take a career break with a plan to work privately and to get the business off the ground.

She said: “We opened the business in August 2018, but Patrick passed away in December 2018, so it was down to me to keep things going. I owed it to Patrick to continue his legacy and make the business as successful as it could be — and that’s what we are doing, with the support of some very good friends and family.

“I have no regrets about my decision to leave my career in speech and language therapy. It had become very stressful in the past few years, whereas my job now gives me great flexibility to work around my family life.”

Bridie with her late husband Patrick

Bridie was speaking as Tourism NI continues its Make It Here campaign, encouraging people to consider a career in tourism and hospitality by highlighting some of the often overlooked positive aspects of the industry.

She believes that if someone has a passion and belief in a certain career, then they should not be afraid to give it a go. Also, if you’re a people person, then the tourism and hospitality sector could be perfect for you.

Bridie said: “Quite a few people thought we were a bit crazy wanting to open a glamping site in a field in Leitrim, a small village outside Castlewellan.

“But Patrick and I didn’t go into this naively. He was self-employed and we had both worked hard to get to a financial position where we thought we could make the jump.

“During those early stages I also worked privately to supplement our income. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to achieve and a 100% belief in each other that we could succeed.

“I devoured the business guidance pages on the Tourism NI website, we got good practical business advice from the Down Business Centre through the Go For It programme and we were able to apply for a grant through the Rural Development Programme.

“I love working in the tourism and hospitality sector. I’m passionate about the wonderful area we live in and love to share this with our guests, many of whom have been back time and time again and who I now regard as friends.

Pine Tree Hollow Glamping’s Wagon cabin

“When guests come to stay at the site, they are happy, relaxed and often marking a special occasion, such as a birthday, retirement or just a family get-together and it’s lovely for me and Pine Tree Hollow Glamping to be part of the special memories they make.

“I love nothing more than seeing families sitting around the fire pits on a summer’s evening, chatting and laughing together. It’s what our ethos here is all about.

“When you work in tourism and hospitality, you get the privilege of being part of people’s special occasions and that is a wonderful thing.

“Patrick is still very much part of the site. He loved a good chat and was so well-known and popular in our local area, with both his business and being involved in rare-breed farming.

“This August we are holding our inaugural ‘Smiddyfest’ event in his honour. This already sold-out event will be a celebration of Irish traditional music and storytelling, which he loved, and we hope it might become an annual event.

“Of course, there can be stressful times: life is busy as a solo parent and running your own business means you never completely switch off.

“I’m probably most productive from around 6am, when I’ll be updating our social media and planning ahead, but I love that no two days are the same.

“I get to meet new people all the time. I’m no longer stuck in an office all day. I’m outdoors much of the time and have so much more control of my work-life balance.

“I can go for a swim, a walk or go kayaking during the day or spend time with my daughters — it just fits in with my life.

“We live in a beautiful part of NI and I am passionate about showing it off to our visitors. I am also able to enjoy the beauty of the Mournes and the surrounding area much more now than during my previous career.”

Bridie’s brand of hospitality proved it has the winning formula when she won popular Channel 4 show Four In A Bed last year, proving that her back-to-basics glamping provides an authentic yet great value experience.

With Newcastle and Castlewellan close by, Pine Tree Hollow Glamping is immersed in the stunning beauty of the Mournes.

The glamping site comprises three individually themed cabins with outdoor kitchens, fire pits and picnic areas (as well as a covered communal cooking and dining area for unpredictable weather).

For more information on Pine Tree Hollow Glamping, visit www.pinetreehollowglamping.com. If you’re considering switching careers and want to learn more about working in tourism, visit www.makeyourcareer.co.uk

from www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk Source link

[2023-07-03 15:25:00

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