Countryside centre owners move on

It has become a favourite haunt of both outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife since it was opened in the late 1980s. Now after 18 years of trading, the couple behind Natural Surroundings, a wildflower and countryside centre near Holt, have decided to sell up.

It has become a favourite haunt of both outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife since it was opened in the late 1980s.

Now after 18 years of trading, the couple behind Natural Surroundings, a wildflower and countryside centre near Holt, have decided to sell up.

But as Peter and Cheryl Loosley prepare to depart Norfolk for a new life in North Wales, the future of the centre itself has been guaranteed, with the as-yet unnamed new owners intending to carry on with the business.

Although the wildflower centre is tucked away off the beaten track on the Bayfield Estate between Holt and Cley, it has become a popular attraction over the years.

Providing wildlife gardens, ponds, flower meadows, woodland, a nursery, shop, family events and an education resource, the centre has demonstrated how to use Highland cattle to graze wildflower meadows and helped support a red-squirrel breeding programme for East Anglia.

Earlier this year the centre reported an appearance of a silver washed fritillary butterfly, a very rare sight in Norfolk.

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The enterprise is also a former EDP Business Award winner, taking the 2005 title for the schools and industry link, thanks to a close relationship with Reepham High School.

“We are going to semi-retire to North Wales, take a year off and take stock of what to do next,” said Mr Loosley.

“Natural Surroundings will carry on under new ownership, which is what we wanted to see happen.We feel we have done everything we can here and the centre needs new owners with fresh ideas.

“When we started out, this kind of wildflower centre was virtually unheard of and it was a large gamble. But now the business is well established and is very much a growing business.”

Mr Loosley said he was excited about the future and pleased that he would no longer have to work weekends, which he had been doing for more than 20 years, including his former role as a ranger at Holt Country Park.

The Loosleys will hold a “low-key” goodbye this weekend for past customers.

“We leave hoping we have inspired all ages to do a little for our wildlife,” said Mr Loosley.