Guest column: Partnership will help make Rufford even better

Cutting the cake to celebrate the partnership between the County Council and Parkwood are, from left: Coun John Knight, storyteller Nicky Rafferty, Parkwood Leisures Glen Hall, Rufford catering manager Isabel Garratt and council leader Coun Alan Rhodes. Picture: Tracey Whitefoot
Cutting the cake to celebrate the partnership between the County Council and Parkwood are, from left: Coun John Knight, storyteller Nicky Rafferty, Parkwood Leisures Glen Hall, Rufford catering manager Isabel Garratt and council leader Coun Alan Rhodes. Picture: Tracey Whitefoot

Nottinghamshire County Council has given a warm welcome to its new commercial partner at Rufford Abbey Country Park to continue to make the historic site a wonderful place to visit.

The council recently appointed commercial operator Parkwood Leisure to help the county council enhance the facilities and the visitor experience at the country park.

Parkwood Leisure has this month taking on the management of shops, cafes and the park’s overall visitor offer.

A new external partner provides the most effective way for the county council to manage Rufford Abbey Country Park in line with the Redefining Your Council strategy.

The council will continue to manage the overall park and its grounds, while Rufford Abbey will remain under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Coun Alan Rhodes, county council leader, said: “We are rightly proud of our historic and picturesque Rufford Abbey country park.

“This is an exciting and important moment for everyone.

“Parkwood Leisure impressed the county council with its proposals which meet our vision for an external partner to develop a more modern and attractive offer for visitors without detracting from the heritage and natural appeal of the country park and abbey.”

“Rufford is already one of the most popular tourist attractions with more than 350,000 visitors each year and we want to protect, preserve and enhance the country park for future generations to enjoy.

“We are delighted to welcome Parkwood Leisure which has a strong track record in the leisure industry working with local communities and partners.”

Parkwood Leisure has outlined activities and improvements that they are looking to develop at Rufford Abbey which include a new mini-golf area for children and adults to enjoy alike.

An improved retail and catering offer which will see the operator working with local suppliers to deliver new and improved menu’s in the catering facilities. The Coach House will receive a culinary make over and include a delicatessen which will stock local meats, cheeses and local produce.

The Outdoor Living Centre will be moving closer to the Abbey entrance and will feature a selection of outdoor living clothing items for men, women and children.

Parkwood Leisure is also working on a brand new mobile app to guide customers through the history of Rufford Abbey, providing an insightful and enjoyable visit.

n Coun John Knight is culture committee chairman at Nottinghamshire County Council