Bryony SymesSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Bryony Symes
We are sure that a free caravan is every Practical Caravan reader’s dream – and for one lucky reader we were able to make that dream a reality. Let’s rewind a little and explain.
Last spring we launched a photography competition to win a new Bailey Pegasus GT65, to tie in with the Bristol manufacturer’s celebrations marking 65 years of building caravans. To enter, readers had to send us an image of the best caravan holiday of their lives.
Our competition winner was Shelley Kettle and her winning entry recreated an image of her caravanning childhood. Her entry read, “After nearly 30 years of joining my parents camping in my second home, Denny Wood, perhaps it’s about time I took their berth-downsizing as a hint and acquired my own mobile accommodation. Denny Wood in the New Forest: a lifetime of memories and a future of fun.”
A keen photographer, Shelley’s imaginative entry won her a new Bailey Pegasus GT65 Rimini. She joined us at The Motorhome & Caravan Show at Birmingham’s NEC last October for the ceremonial handover and for a publicity shoot.
She was joined there by her caravanning (and no doubt very proud) parents, Rita and Keith. They are currently on their fourth caravan, a Lunar Clubman, although they have owned a Bailey in the past. “We’ve been caravanning with Shelley since she was just 18 months old,” Keith told us.
Shelley continues to join her parents caravanning when they get away to the New Forest up to five times a year. “Currently I have to stay in a tent outside the Clubman because it’s just a two-berth – but that’s all about to change,” she said, excited about the prospect of collecting her Bailey.
Indeed, it was while camping with her parents in the New Forest that Shelley received the news she’d won! “Mum spotted the competition in the magazine in the first place, and we were both crying after I took the call.
“I love caravanning,” says Shelley. “I love the freedom it gives you. I grew up caravanning and felt safe and free to go off and just be a child on the sites we stayed at.”
When the big day dawned, I went to meet Shelley as she took the keys to her brand new Bailey Pegasus GT65 Rimini. As you can imagine, she was over the moon, recalling caravan holidays from days gone by and marvelling at how design and construction methods have come on in the years she has been caravanning.
And perhaps it comes as no surprise to learn that Denny Wood Caravan & Camping Park in the New Forest is still her favourite campsite. She might have been going there for years, but it is quiet, away from the crowds and a safe place for children to play and explore, which makes it a winner in her eyes.
Shelley visited Lee Davey Caravans with her parents to collect her new tourer, where Retailer Principal Patrick Willoughby presented her with the keys to her new pride and joy. Also there for the occasion was Bailey's representative John Rawlings. "Shelley and her parents were lovely and I was interested to learn that Shelley is a zookeeper and works with the rhinos at a zoo in Kent that my son went to on a school trip last week," said John with a smile. "She says she's quite used to rhino poo, but always gets her Dad to empty the caravan toilet!"
In fact, Shelley has worked as a zookeeper for 10 years, so perhaps it's no surprise to hear that she wants to combine her love of photography with her passion for nature on a caravan holiday in the near future. “I fancy heading up to Scotland to photograph wildlife there in its natural habitat,” she told me, and it’s wonderful to hear that she has great plans to make the most of her prize.
We’re sure all readers of Practical Caravan will wish Shelley and her family many happy years of caravanning in their new Bailey Pegasus GT65 Rimini. The new van’s maiden holiday in the New Forest is undoubtedly just around the corner!