July 2016 is a notable month for of our Estate Manager, Kevin Sweet - it marks his 40th year of association with this wonderful property. To find out more about his time at Ashdown Park, we had a quick catch up with Kevin...
How and when did your association with Ashdown Park start?
My association with Ashdown Park started on the 12th July 1976, the year of the very long and hot summer. I started as a Trainee Gardener on pay of around £12.00 per week!
What has been the most challenging aspect of caring for the estate?
It must be the storm of October 1987 when we lost almost 60% of the trees on the estate. It was a very emotional time and had a very big affect on me.
Which project has given you the most personal satisfaction over the last 40 years?
The planting of trees on the estate gives me real satisfaction as they add so much to the landscape and will hopeful be around long after I am not. When I walk around the estate I see trees I planted 30 to 40 years ago and take great pleasure in seeing them mature....just like me!
How many years long service does Bosun (Kevin's dog) have? What does he enjoy most about your job?
Bosun is now 13 years old and has been a loyal companion since he was a puppy. Many guests and members of staff know Bosun well and look forward to seeing him, normally sitting by my side on the Gator (as demonstrated to the right!). Bosun likes to have a good run in the top fields of the estate and also enjoys lying in the sun in the plant nursery while I am working.
Do you have any funny stories that you can share?
Back in the early years of the hotel I broke my left ankle when I slipped on some wet grass by the summerhouse. It was during February and was cold and very wet. It was not funny at the time but looking back, it must have been a picture - with staff from the hotel bringing down very expensive blankets and pillows to keep me warn until the ambulance arrived!
What area of the estate would you urge guests to visit this summer and why?
A walk up to the top field would be well worth it as you get a great view of the hotel and the forest. There is every chance you will have the area to yourself and will see some of the llamas at the llama park next door. It is very peaceful and you may even see some deer grazing on the grass.
Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer our questions and a huge congratulations from everyone at the hotel for reaching this milestone.