Michael Taylor started his career spending 10 years as a press photographer covering the Fylde Coast for the Lancashire Evening Post. He also spent 2 years during his period of National Service, travelling around Africa and Arabia working in the first Joint Public Relations Service of the Ministry of Defence as a photographer. (This was lucky for him as well as the other members of the Armed Services as he was first put in the Medical Corp!!). He received several letters of commendation from commanding officers for quality of his work and ‘sticking his neck out’ for his pictures, particularly air-to-air for the RAF.
Following on from this he became involved in owning Saddlery Centres throughout Britain. With good advice from his accountant, Michael decided to invest in something that didn’t move, eat or have a waste by product. Buying his first caravan park in Kirkham was the start of his owning both residential and holiday caravan parks in the North West, which remains the nucleus of his business. (Although, as caravan park owners all know, he didn’t lose the waste by-product!)
Michael joined the NFSO as it was, now the British Holiday & Home Park Association. He went on to become Chairman of this local branch in the late 70s. He also joined the National Caravan Council and was nominated for the Parks Committee. He served on the Industry Committee negotiating with the Government putting the Industry views forward for the Mobile Home Act. Michael progressed to serve as Chairman of the Parks Committee for two years and was then elected as Chairman of the NCC for a two-year term in March 1986.
Always keen on promotion, Michael set up the first North West Caravan Show at the Norbreck Castle. This was moved initially to Bellevue and then, because of its success on to G-Mex in Manchester. He was Chairman of the show committee for 10 years that saw it strengthen with each year passing. Wanting to raise people’s concept of the Holiday Caravan, Michael Chaired the Industry Promotion Committee for Caravan Holiday Homes for 9 years convincing competing manufacturers that they should work together and fund the generic media campaign to promote sales of caravan holiday homes.
Always striving to make Caravan Holiday Homes and his parks as good as they can be, Michael transformed what was one of the tattiest parks in the Lake District into the first totally timber holiday caravan park in the country. Working with Cosalt Holiday Homes to create the timber units, Bassenthwaite Lakeside Lodges went on to win several awards for innovation and working with the environment. The same concept adapted to the local countryside using timber units stained in blues and greens has won awards for his latest development, Sunset Park at Hambleton. Sunset has been in the finals for the ‘England for Excellence Awards’ three times gaining Bronze and Silver Awards.
Michael took a great interest in local tourism activities believing promotion of our area helps all businesses. He was a Director for several years of the now disbanded North West Tourist Board and also sat on the Management Committee. He was a Director of Lancashire Tourism Partnership and Vice-Chairman of Wyre Tourism.
Michael is a Past President of Kirkham and Rural Fylde Rotary. A member for over 50 years, he was honoured to receive the Paul Harris Award from his Club. In 1988 he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He served as a Trustee at Trinity – The Hospice in the Fylde for several years. He was, of course, Chairman of the Carr Royd Leisure Group of Companies based in Hambleton.
Michael, when asked, always said he was from Lancashire. He was proud of that! More specifically, he was born and raised in Poulton-le-Fylde although he received his education at St Bees, Cumbria. His mother, Hylda, owned the Stocks in Poulton and ran it as a business during WWII, His father, Roland, taught PE at both Baines and Hodgson.
Michael married his wife, Sandy, who he met on her 13th trip on the QE2 40 years ago. He often joked he wouldn’t have asked her to dance if he’d known she was American! They have resided in Hambleton since 1975 with Sandy taking an active part in the businesses. Together they have won several awards for the quality of the caravan parks and innovativeness.
In the last two years Michael was pleased that his son, Paul, daughter-in-law, Karen and Grandson, Elliot have joined them in the business at Hambleton. It is a real family affair! He said he never wanted to retire. To Michael, retirement meant running the businesses he loved and being able to travel now as he wanted. He did just that being in work 7 days a week when at home then enjoying time off mostly cruising or visiting the USA right up until he took ill in July.
Michael and Sandy have another son, David, who attended Arnold School and the University of Manchester before working for Disney in Orlando for 10 years. He then decided to follow his dream to be a pilot and is now a First Officer with Compass Air in the USA.
Michael was always proud of his sons’ achievements, Paul with his own building company and David with his career in the USA. He has encouraged them to be strong but has always been there to support them as needed.
Having survived a double heart bypass 28 years ago, Michael enjoyed very good health until he was diagnosed with cancer in late July. He battled on receiving treatment at Christies in Manchester and was hopeful of a good outcome when he developed an infection last week that weakened him. He was admitted to hospital January 14th to stabilise the infection but had a heart attack Friday morning. He was made comfortable and passed away as peacefully as possible Friday evening.
Michael was a strong, self made man. He will hopefully be remembered as being direct but kind, helpful and having a wicked sense of humour. He will be sorely missed by his wife, Sandy, sons Paul & David, daughter-in-law Karen, son-in-law, Paul, grand children Rosie, Jonny and Elliot and great granddaughters, Megan and Chloe as well as the many friends he has made over his 78 years of life.
Michael’s funeral service will be held at 12:15pm on Friday, January 23rd at St James Church, Stalmine with burial after at Preesall Cemetary; flowers from family only with any donations in his memory to Christie Hospital, Manchester.