Farewell to Yarmouth holiday group

AN association with a history of more than 60 years' working to bring holidaymakers to Great Yarmouth has disbanded leaving a legacy to local young people.

AN association with a history of more than 60 years' working to bring holidaymakers to Great Yarmouth has disbanded leaving a legacy to local young people.

The Great Yarmouth Holiday Association has folded because of declining membership among hoteliers, restaurateurs and guesthouse owners in the borough.

But its final gesture was to invest in the future careers of trainee chefs at Great Yarmouth College by presenting the college with �10,000 left in its coffers.

The money will be used to run a hardship fund to help students in need in the hotel and catering school.

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The association has also presented a shield and prizes for the college to run two annual end-of-year awards for students.

The Great Yarmouth Holiday Association had a rich history working tirelessly since the 1940s to put the resort on the holiday map.

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At its height more than 300 members were united in one mission - to fill the resort's beds every year and keep it top of the league.

It set up the successful East Anglian Catering Exhibition in 1985, which ran for many years at the Vauxhall Holiday Centre and then at the Marina Centre.

It raised much money to fund advertising for the resort across the UK.

But in recent years membership has dwindled and the association, under its last chairman Gregg Haddon and President John McNamara, decided to disband.

For Mr McNamara, just the third president of the association, the folding of the organisation brought to an end a family membership stretching back 60 years.

He joined the association - which re-started after the last war in 1947- when he came out of the army in 1948 to join his father in the hotel business. His two siblings also ran hotels.

He said: “My wife and I attended Great Yarmouth College then for evening classes to learn catering when we started the business and the college always supported the catering exhibition.

“When my generation came into the business they came into it for life. Most ran hotels until they retired and now people buy guesthouses move here and then move on again. It is very transient, people are coming and going and we don't have the number of hotels and guesthouses in Great Yarmouth we used to have.”

Kevin Bayes, head of the catering and hospitality school, said he was thrilled with the gift. The money would be invested in a high interest account and the interest used to run a hardship fund.

The name of the association would live on by the Student of the Year shield the association had donated along with two �50 prizes from Bookers and Josens and Factory First catering equipment suppliers, he said.

The association made other cash gifts to Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in Bloom, Great Yarmouth Residents' Association and the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr McNamara, now 82, sold his last hotel, the Marine Court Hotel, when he retired. It has since been converted into a retirement home.

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