Profile: Potters legend Buzby really is one of a kind

Buzby Allen of Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton.
He won the customer service award at EDP Tourism Awards earlier this month.

Picture: James Bass Buzby Allen of Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton. He won the customer service award at EDP Tourism Awards earlier this month. Picture: James Bass

Monday, December 2, 2013
12:53 PM

He is a bit vague on personal details because he thinks it adds to the mystique surrounding someone who can just as easily pop up as a Christmas elf or Marj his female alter ego (a larger-than-life character).

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Thirty-five and 7ft 2in? Buzby, you are kidding!

He is coy about just how many years he has worked at Potters’ but entertainment manager Rachel Baade helpfully offers the fact she has been there 20 years and Buzby was already a fixture when she arrived.

He said: “I like to tell people I have been here two years because the first year you give it all you have got and the second year you still have that freshness but also know exactly what you are doing.”

In fact, the zest of starting a new job has never gone away for Buzby who starts each day as though it was his first at the resort.

“I love the fact that every day is different.

“Today I have started as an elf 
but later I will turn into a snowman. Variety is the spice of life,” he 
said.

Buzby modestly puts down his customer service accolade to “just doing my job”.

He said: “When guests come here on holiday, alongside comfortable surroundings, good food and entertainment they want to have fun – and that’s what I try to provide.”

Rachel interjects and says what Buzby wants to do is make a difference – “And that is precisely what he does, whether it is an old lady or a young child.”

Buzby said: “I have no official job title, you could call me an entertainer extraordinaire. I have my hands in everything from making props and doing scenery to organising sports and quizzes.”

His latest triumph has been designing a new children’s room for the resort, complete with “the biggest table tennis table in Europe that has been a massive hit”.

But alongside coaching football and officiating at games of curling, Buzby might just as easily be seen being wheeled around the resort in a hospital bed.

“Sights like that which are truly bizarre and unreal help people escape from their everyday lives when they are on holiday,” he said.

The rewards that come with his job are priceless – like the day he encouraged a teenage boy with cancer to play football and saw his self-confidence and determination almost visibly grow when he scored a goal.

On another occasion, his comic tumble downstairs drew a chuckle from a sick adult.

“He told me: ‘I have got cancer but you made me really laugh last night,” said Buzby.

His easy empathy with guests, whatever their circumstances, might come from the fact that he was very sick himself with asthma as a child.

“I had to go to a special school and nearly died on occasion,” he said.

Buzby, who has five brothers and three sisters, said growing up in Birmingham, it was his mother Louise who was the comedian.

“She used to go to a bus stop, light up a cigarette and dance and tell other people in the queue, ‘a bus will come because I am doing this’,” he said.

After school, he joined Safeway and his irrepressible personality came to the fore even as he rose to the heights of night crew manager.

Outside work, he formed a DJ act – the Royals – with his twin and elder brother, appearing at venues across Birmingham; his brothers also helped him set up a church youth club.

Buzby recalled the time came when he fancied a life change and spent six months learning French before he applied to become a GO – gentil organisateur – at the resort chain Club Mediterranee.

He said: “My French was not 
good enough but I applied to Warners and got taken on as an entertainer at their resort on the Isle of Wight.

“I nearly got the sack after a couple of days when I told guests there was a prize envelope stuck under one chair in the hall (there was not) and suddenly there were 700 chairs being lifted up.”

Guests who grew to love him spread the word when they later went on holiday to Potters’ and Brian Potter was so impressed by what he heard that he personally rang Buzby and invited him to join his staff.

Buzby said: “You see families growing up, they come so often. One guy I remember as a teenager texted me today to say he had got a job at Lloyd’s Bank.”

Rachel described him as a “veritable Pied Piper” – “Kids want to be in his company. Mums who remember him when they were kids now bring their own children and are happy to see them having the same fun.”

Buzby, who lives close by in Coast Road, Hopton, with his Russian collie called Frank – “I used to call him Big Mac but got tired of shouting that out on walks” – has a passion for ceroc, a modern jive, and every February now there is the spectacle of hundreds of guests joining him on a ceroc break.

Buzby emphasises that it is teamwork that makes Potters’ tick – but his final word is a plug for his just released single, the Banana Shuffle, available on iTunes.

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