Hotel man fell in love with Blakeney

North Norfolk hotelier Michael Stannard has run the Blakeney Hotel for more than 20 years. Born in Horsham, Mr Stannard grew up in Norwich, attending Town Close School, before boarding at Lees School, Cambridge.

North Norfolk hotelier Michael Stannard has run the Blakeney Hotel for more than 20 years.

Born in Horsham, Mr Stannard grew up in Norwich, attending Town Close School, before boarding at Lees School, Cambridge.


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At the age of 13, he was evacuated to Pitlochry, Scotland, where some of his fellow pupils' parents helped run a makeshift school in a country hotel until the end of the war.

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Mr Stannard completed his education in Cambridge and, after two years' National Service, he was articled to a firm of Norwich accountants.

After qualifying, he travelled the country working for a firm which was eventually taken over by Trusthouse Forte but, in 1986, he decided to give up accountancy and return to Norfolk to fulfil his dream of running his own hotel.

After falling in love with the Blakeney Hotel and its picturesque surroundings, he moved with his family from Hertfordshire and, almost immediately embarked on a programme of improvements - installing en-suite bathrooms, adding more rooms, extending the hotel dining room and updating the decor with the help of his wife Annabel.

Since buying the hotel, Mr Stannard, who lives at Wighton, near Wells-next-the-Sea, has worked seven days a week, only recently cutting back his hours to devote more time to his hobbies of golf, walking and sailing.

He celebrated his 80th birthday a couple of weeks ago, with a party at the hotel for friends and family, including his four children and seven grandchildren.

What is the best thing about your job?

Having the opportunity to meet and work with so many people.

And the worst?

I don't mind the unsociable hours and we have never suffered from staffing problems or a lack of customers, so I suppose I have been very lucky.

What is your favourite Norfolk building?

Norwich Cathedral - it's just a splendid building.

What is the one thing you would change about north Norfolk?

It does have its disadvantages in that it can be difficult to get anywhere, but you've got the beaches and lots of lovely scenery to compensate.

What is the one thing you would change about yourself?

I quite enjoy my life, so there's not much I can think of - although I wouldn't mind having a bit more intelligence, I could live with that!

What is your greatest achievement?

Selecting a lot of very good people to work for me, they are a great team and a number of them have been with me for more than 20 years.

And your proudest moment?

Recently, that has to be my 80th birthday party. There were 75 people there, they all danced and had a good time and it was very enjoyable.

Do you have any regrets?

Although I have been on sailing holidays and worked in places like Tangiers and Gibraltar, I would have liked to have done a bit more travelling.

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

I enjoy reading thrillers or detective novels and there isn't a particular film that springs to mind, but I do like watching sport and Antiques Roadshow on television.

How would you like to be remembered?

I don't particularly want to be remembered - once you're gone, you're gone!

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