Gloria celebrates 63rd year holidaying at Repps with Bastwick campsite

The extended Colledge family and a corgi

(L-R) Gary Colledge, James Colledge, Rachel Cowell, Rob Kent, Julie Mabbett, Dan Phipps, Gloria Colledge, Kelly Aylett, Kay Aylett, Lawrence Aylett, Becky Charlton and Holly Aylett. - Credit: James Weeds

Some families can spend weeks deciding where they go on holiday.

But for 84-year-old Gloria Colledge, there is no such worry as she celebrates her 63rd year in a row enjoying the family-friendly atmosphere of the White House Campsite in Repps with Bastwick.

Starting off the tradition in 1959 as newlyweds with her late husband Roy, Mrs Colledge's first few trips to the campsite near Great Yarmouth were made by motorbike where she would carry a knapsack and tent on her back.

Mrs Colledge has since brought her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the place she calls her second home.

Gary Colledge (left) with mother Gloria and family dog Scamp.

Gary Colledge (left) with mother Gloria and family dog Scamp. - Credit: James Weeds

"It's always so peaceful here," said Mrs Colledge.

"Over the years, it's become my home away from home."

"The owners couldn't have been nicer. They are family to me."

Since the 1950s, Mrs Colledge has made at least one trip a year to the Repps with Bastwick campsite from her home city of Coventry.

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And now her son, Gary and daughters Julie Mabbett, 57 and Kay Aylett, 53, are continuing the tradition.

Holly, Kay and Kelly Aylett plan on continuing the family tradition.

Holly, Kay and Kelly Aylett plan on continuing the family tradition. - Credit: James Weeds

"We find the people here so friendly, open and warm," said Kay.

"It's a different pace of life.

"We've been washed out in bad weather and been brought hay bales. No matter the weather, we always feel welcome."

Mrs Colledge said she has treasured memories at the campsite, including her final holiday with her husband before he died at the end of 2004.

"When he was diagnosed, he said he wanted nothing more than to come back one last time," she said.

"It meant the world to him."

The Colledge family

The Colledge family intend to carry on the tradition of making annual trips to the White House Campsite started by Gloria (centre). - Credit: James Weeds

Even during the pandemic, the family had managed to find a way to enjoy a holiday when domestic travel was permitted. The family brought their own separate bathroom and shower facilities just to keep the tradition alive.

But when asked what it was about the campsite specifically that always brought her back, Mrs Colledge said: "It's the peace and quiet, and the fact that no matter what, we always feel welcome.

Current owners Jim and Bronia Williams with Gloria Colledge (centre).

Current owners Jim and Bronia Williams with Gloria Colledge (centre). - Credit: James Weeds

"Even going back to when the original owner was alive. We would often see him leaning by the gate with a smile, ready to welcome anyone who entered.

"Since then, the layout of the site has changed, but its atmosphere never did.

"And that's why we'll be back for many years to come."

The White House Campsite over the years

The White House Campsite opened around 70 years ago when owner Harry "Peddler" Thain let out his field to campers wanting to take their boats out on the nearby Broads.

Harry "Peddler" Thain, leaving on a stick.

Original owner Harry "Peddler" Thain was said to have welcomed most of the visitors to the campsite. - Credit: White House Campsite

These days, the site is operated by Harry's grandniece, Bronia Williams, and her husband Jim.

The couple shared stories of how basic the campsite was in the 1960s and 70s.

"In those days, equipment was basic and there was no electricity," Mr Williams said.

"It was a common sight to see men having their early morning shave with just a hand mirror and cold jug of water."

Shaving was done by by a small mirror and a cold jug of water in times gone by at the White House Campsite.

Shaving was done by by a small mirror and a cold jug of water in times gone by at the White House Campsite. - Credit: White House Campsite

The owners said many of their guests are frequent returners - with many families from places such as London, Sheffield and Coventry becoming more like friends rather than just customers.

"We still have some people returning most years after four decades," Mrs Williams said.

"I don't think anyone's going to beat Gloria's record though."

The White House Campsite in the 1960s.

The White House Campsite in Rollesby in the 1960s. - Credit: White House Campsite