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Manager of Hawkstone Historic Park & Follies retires after 15 years (25th June 2012)

Manager of Hawkstone Historic Park & Follies retires after 15 years

For the past 15 years Roger Whitehouse has been as important – and fascinating – a part of Hawkstone Park as the historic 18th century Follies. But last weekend, Follies manager Roger finished his final shift at this unique tourist attraction as he returned to his new home in Wem to begin his retirement.

Roger joined the team at Hawkstone in 1997 having previously owned and managed newsagents before working as a circulation manager for the Mirror Group in London and Manchester.

On arrival he moved into a new home on the Follies, which has allowed him to be on site 365 days a year.

Visitors to the park will no doubt have seen and spoken to Roger and his enthusiasm for all things Follies rubs off on everyone he meets.

It is a role the 65-year-old has clearly held in higher affection than simply a job, something that comes through in his work on the park whether it be preserving and protecting wildlife, or providing visitors with an in-depth history of the park.

But after 15 years at the top of the tree, Roger felt the time was right to pass the privilege on to someone new.

“It’s time for a change,” he said. “It’s time to give someone else a chance to take over and love this job as I have done.

“I have had 15 years in charge of one of the country’s best tourist attractions in a unique setting and it has been wonderful.

“I have seen a lot of changes implemented and even seen trees that I planted grow and I have really enjoyed it.”

In terms of a highlight, it is understandably difficult for Roger to pinpoint one particular moment but indicates that the general sense of reward the job provides is something that never fails to please.

Roger added: “I’ve seen around a quarter of a million people come through the doors here and leave with a smile on their face and not many people can say that!

“To be able to give people enjoyment and see the joy on their faces is just fantastic. I think it is really important to find a job that gives you something back and this one has certainly done that, it provides a huge sense of achievement.

“The whole 15 years has been the highlight. I’ve seen sports stars and celebrities from the worlds of music and film come through here and they all say how inspiring the place is and it is lovely to know that people who inspire you, can in turn be inspired by a place like the Follies.

“I’ve seen children come in at a young age and keep coming back year on year for special events like Christmas and even some that have come back to propose to their partners.”

Roger will still come back too. He may have vacated his home on the Follies six months ago to move to nearby Wem but will be back when he can to share stories of the park and continue to care for the wildlife.

“I’ll still have connections at Hawkstone,” he said.

“I will come up and show people around and tell them about the wildlife and it will always be a special place to me but it is time for someone else to feel that sense of achievement of managing such a special place.”