An interview with Holly Robertson, Parkdean Resorts Beach Team Manager, Croyde We recently featured a blog about the visit of Colston’s School, Bristol. In that blog the school made special mention to the fantastic workshops and beach clean activities organised by Parkdean Resorts’ beach team, based here at Ruda Holiday Park. We thought it would be good idea to find out more about these intrepid beach custodians and their educational work. Here’s an interview with Holly Robertson, Beach Manager at Parkdean Resorts, Croyde to delve a little more into all the team do to help protect our beautiful Croyde beach. Could you tell us what your responsibilities are as Beach Team Manager? Myself and the Ruda beach team are responsible for looking after the entirety of Croyde beach, from the low water mark to the back of the dune system. We also tend to the dune paddocks, two lakes, gardens and meadows within our site. I always think of what we do as being divided into three main responsibilities: keeping the beach and surrounding areas clean and safe for visitors, conservation, and enhancement of the wild habitat, and finally being advocates for the environment here. Parkdean Resorts is committed to caring for our parks, people and planet and here at Ruda we have a crucial area of habitat which we work hard to protect. What do you find is the most enjoyable aspect of the job? Being the custodian of such an amazing piece of habitat is a real privilege, and it’s tough to choose one aspect of that work that I enjoy the most! Working here and learning new things every day about all the animals that live here means that you can't ever get bored, and being able to pass that knowledge on to others has to be one of the best things. People will protect what they care about. I’m a firm believer that when we get people excited about the animals and plants that can be found here, through rock-pooling or pond-dipping or bug hunting in our dunes, then becoming advocates for coastal environments just naturally follows. What recommendations would you have for anyone visiting Croyde on how they can help keep the beach healthy? There’s the obvious answer of leaving no trace, picking up your rubbish, joining us in a beach clean etc. But I’d say, think about being a conscious consumer while you’re here and actually while you’re at home too because marine rubbish can come from waste generated nowhere near the sea! Whilst you’re here, I’d recommend doing things like bringing reusable bottles to the beach and using our new refill station; checking our beach toy borrow library before you buy something new for your beach day and hiring a quality or even a wooden bodyboard rather than buying one. All of these things will make a difference in how much waste is generated. I would also say explore the habitat here, join us on one of our sessions, learn about why this habitat is so important, and I bet you you’ll become an advocate for spreading the word on how everyone can join us in protecting our coasts! Would you like to tell us more about some of your beach activities, projects and workshops? Firstly, we undertake beach recycling: we collect broken bodyboards in two recycle boxes which are then recycled through keep Britain Tidy’s Wave of Waste campaign. As a result of having these recycle boxes out, I realised we were getting other things left, and so I added another box for broken beach tents, chair, windbreaks, buckets and spades etc. Anything that is useable goes into the borrow library beach hut to be reused. We used everything else we collected to make a large art installation of a whale, with the help of some local artists and school children with CEET CIC. This helped highlight the issue of all the stuff that is left over from a beach holiday. We give the tents to the 2 Minute Foundation to be made into reusable beach clean bags, but as of yet we can’t find large scale use for much else, so after we use it to highlight the problem much has to be landfilled. Secondly, we are responsible for local conservation work. We have areas of higher-level stewardship land that we manage to enhance wildflowers, the site generally is managed to encourage biodiversity. We manage our lakes as a nature reserve and have many areas we manage specifically to promote wildlife like wildflower banks, mini ponds, bird and bat boxes etc. We also work on projects to promote specific species within the local habitat, for example we work with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to provide habitat for the locally rare Brown-banded Carder bee. Our work has recently led to the discovery of a female Brown-banded bee on site on one of our bumblebee surveys for the first time in over twenty years! Thirdly, we work on engagement projects. We run a programme of Outdoor Explore sessions for much of the year, open to our guests and the general public as well. This includes rockpool rambles, pond-dipping, dune bug hunts, nature art and beach cleaning with microplastic sieving (Beach Clean Hero). We also run sessions with any local school that wants to come and learn, organisations like CEET CIC hold public beach cleans and engagement days like World Sand Dune Day for Dynamic Dunescapes. Some of our extra projects have included the installation of a water bottle filling station with the help of the Sea-Changers Coastal Fountain Fund. I am also involved in the access for all group who have recently secured funding for a changing places facility. We’re all really excited for when that will be in place and we can continue to work towards making the beach even more accessible in the future. For more information on all the great work that the Parkdean Resorts beach team are undertaking and to find out how you can become a part of it, please contact Holly at holly.Robertson@Parkdean-Resorts.com.