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Norfolk outdoor education centre on track for a bumper anniversary year

PUBLISHED: 10:42 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:05 02 November 2018

Isobel Read cutting a celebration cake at the opening of a new operations centre at Sheringham outdoor education centre Hilltop. Photo: RICHARD JARMY

Isobel Read cutting a celebration cake at the opening of a new operations centre at Sheringham outdoor education centre Hilltop. Photo: RICHARD JARMY

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A Norfolk outdoor education centre is gearing up for a bumper year, with 2019 bookings already at a record level.

Hilltop director Helen Read serving up a celebration buffet to guests at the opening of Hilltop's new 'Hub' operations building. Photo: KAREN BETHELLHilltop director Helen Read serving up a celebration buffet to guests at the opening of Hilltop's new 'Hub' operations building. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Hilltop, on the outskirts of Sheringham, next year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, and with the final phase of a £250,000 investment programme completed a few weeks ago, owners the Read family are looking forward to welcoming more visitors than ever before.

Set in 26 acres of picturesque woodland, the 180-bed centre offers a wide range of activities to hundreds of youth and school groups from as far afield as Leicestershire, Derbyshire, London and Kent, also running family adventure days and team building and ‘reward days’ for businesses from all over the country.

Hilltop founder Martin Read and his brother Glenn at the opening of a new operations building at Sheringham outdoor education centre Hilltop. Photo: KAREN BETHELLHilltop founder Martin Read and his brother Glenn at the opening of a new operations building at Sheringham outdoor education centre Hilltop. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Founded by former PE teacher Martin Read and two of his five brothers, Stephen and Glenn, Hilltop, which won the customer care category at last year’s EDP Business Awards, aims to provide the “full package”.

Martin’s son Oliver, who, with wife Helen, is a director of the business, said a new office building would streamline operations by providing a modern, welcoming space for all the centre’s staff, from instructors, to housekeepers.

Read family members at the opening of a new operatons building at Hilltop outdoor education centre: (from left) Helen, Martin, Isobel, Sue and Oliver. Photo: KAREN BETHELLRead family members at the opening of a new operatons building at Hilltop outdoor education centre: (from left) Helen, Martin, Isobel, Sue and Oliver. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Named the Hub and designed by SMG Architects, of Sheringham, the building comprises seven offices and a briefing room large enough to accommodate Hilltop’s 25-strong team of instructors, as well as a first aid room, a staff rest room and a bedroom for the duty manager.

The project has also allowed the centre to increase the number of parking spaces available to visitors.

Dedicating the building to the memory of his uncle, Stephen, who died from cancer in 2016 aged 63, Oliver said: “We believe that both customer care and staff care are paramount to our business, and happy staff with a good working environment where they can communicate quickly and easily means that our customers benefit from the highest levels of care.”

The Hub was officially opened by Stephen’s widow, Isobel, at a celebration attended by staff, customers and local dignitaries.

“This is the culmination of 14 months of very hard work,” Oliver said. “We are so grateful, not only to my uncle Steve, but also for the support of his business, Read Brothers Timber, who have supplied much of the material for the new building.”

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