National Camping and Caravanning Week VIP event

The sun was shining, birds were singing and camping had never looked better for the first official day of National Camping and Caravanning Week’s (NCCW) VIP event at Alton, The Star Club Site in Staffordshire on 31 May and 1 June.
NCCW kicked off in the Peak District with a major publicity event ahead of the week itself on 22 May. The Great Ridge Night Light, organised in partnership with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), saw the high peaks atmospherically headtorch-lit at dusk by some 600 volunteers and Club staff – a stunt that raised the profile of the BMC’s ‘Mend our Mountains: Make One Million appeal’ and awareness of spending time in the great British countryside under the Club’s NCCW 2018 walking theme.

Club President Julia Bradbury and TV celebrity Sam Thompson headed up the Right Night Light
The Club’s VIP event at Alton helped reach out to those who may not have previously considered camping as a holiday option. The 120 guests had first-hand experience of the Club’s renowned friendly welcome, and were treated to a host of family-friendly activities including a vintage funfair, bouncy castle, face painting, coconut shy, a climbing wall and live music. Thursday’s itinerary also included a seven-kilometre circular walk led by Mountain Leader Dave Ascough and attended by 22 VIP hikers and their well-behaved dogs.

Dave Ascough, second left, preps the VIP walkers ahead of their seven-kilometre ramble

Children wanting to learn more about the adventurous side of camping were captivated by broadcaster (and the Club magazine’s regular columnist) Andy Torbet, who discussed the merits of lightweight camping and shelter building, and showcased a range of methods to stay safe in the great outdoors. Andy said: “This event is on a grander scale than I imagined and has really shown me the true spirit of ‘The Friendly Club’. I like how inclusive the Club is – catering for every budget from those with a basic tent to a grand caravan. It’s a great option for young families – I have two small children – and staying at a Club Site is such an economical and stress-free way of having a holiday. I’m a big advocate of having adventures on your doorstep and love the fact that I can drive to my local Camping in the Forest site (Bracelands) in Gloucestershire in just a few minutes and have a great break with the family.”

Broadcaster Andy Torbet was on hand to keep the younger campers entertained 
Other VIP guests in attendance included 15 NCCW competition winners, ten of whom brought along their own units, three who won tents to take home at the end of the event, and two who won a stay in Swift caravans.

Lianne Christie and her daughter Amelia from Birmingham won a two-night stay in a Swift Sprite Major. Lianne said: “I enter every competition going but hadn’t won anything in a while so was thrilled to discover I’d won this prize! We’re not Club members but I’m tempted to join having seen what the Club is all about. We’ve recently invested in a folding camper and are hoping to take more holidays by the seaside.”

Enjoying their prize of a two-night stay in a Swift Sprite Major were Lianne Christie and her daughter Amelia

Bailey with Truma also ran their own competitions to win a stay in a Bailey caravan and had two winners on site.
Guests were treated to breakfast, lunch and dinner, and danced the Thursday night away in the grand marquee to the sounds of United Souls and Doc Brown Trio. The fun was set to continue bright and early Friday morning, starting with that all important campsite breakfast…

With special thanks to the Club’s NCCW sponsors: Truma, Powrtouch and Thetford for their valued support.

Vicky Sartain Vicky Sartain is the magazine's Features Editor and when not at her desk can usually be found lounging in a tea room conveniently near a Club Site. She enjoys the outdoors and will pop out for a walk come rain or shine. Read other posts by this author