Fun and games as Sandy Balls holiday park marks centenary milestone

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Sandy Balls
The Custard Catwalk at Sandy Balls holiday park’s 100th birthday celebrations

ONE hundred years of smiles, laughter and fun were celebrated at the Sandy Balls holiday park in the New Forest when it marked its centenary milestone.

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The festival at Sandy Balls in Fordingbridge offered a host of free activities for current and former customers, including den making, fire building, arts and crafts and face painting.

But the highlight of the day was the custard catwalk, which proved hugely popular. Children were invited to help create a massive trough of custard which saw participants covered in cornflour and water, and after a lot of stirring and giggles the catwalk was finally ready for everyone to take a stroll on.

Participants were amazed find they didn’t sink – but only if they moved fast enough!

There was also a Mad Hatter’s tea party, which saw guests entertained by characters from Alice in Wonderland, including a 10ft Queen of Hearts, along with music and storytelling. Visitors fancying a slightly alternative activity could take part an alpaca for a walk.

Celebrations were brought to a close by a fire blessing ceremony around a huge carved reindeer head.

Sandy Balls has been a favourite for generations of families, some of whom were at the 100th anniversary party.

The resort’s name has been traced back to the reign of Henry VIII, when the site was referred to as Sandyballas.

In 1919, the estate was brought by Ernest Westlake, an anthropologist who wanted to establish a campsite for his youth movement, the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry. After the death of Ernest, his son Aubrey Westlake created Forest School Camps where children learnt traditional forest crafts.

In 1934, 12 simply-furnished camping huts were built, and the following year the first brochure was produced advertising the resort as a place to travel to.

Entitled ‘Sandy Balls for the Beauty Spot Holiday’, it highlighted the campsite’s beautiful position in the heart of the New Forest.

Through the 1950s and 60s the Westlake family continued to develop Sandy Balls as a holiday centre.

In 2007, a major redevelopment was carried out, making the central area into a piazza and adding the bistro restaurant plus new retail spaces including a bike hire shop.

Ten years later the Westlake family sold the site to Away Resorts Ltd, which has given it a £10m overhaul with a view to turning it into one of the New Forest’s most popular tourist spots.

The makeover saw new luxury chalets, complete with hot tubs.

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