A day in the life: Lost property

‘Intimate’ items, false teeth, engagement rings and James Martin. After 27 years at Sherwood Forest, Lost Property Supervisor Janice Abrams has seen and heard it all!

Anyone lost a sombrero?
Anyone lost a sombrero?
James Martin at the Good Food Show Winter 2014, credit: CGirlPeaGirl
James Martin at the Good Food Show Winter 2014, credit: CGirlPeaGirl
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Anyone lost a sombrero?
Anyone lost a sombrero?
James Martin at the Good Food Show Winter 2014, credit: CGirlPeaGirl
James Martin at the Good Food Show Winter 2014, credit: CGirlPeaGirl

My Center Parcs history
This is my 27th year at Center Parcs. When I first started I worked evenings. I cleaned the kindergarten, the Medical Centre and the cash office. I also organised items that guests wanted, if they’d requested a cot, a kettle or anything like that. I went on to working days as a cleaner; over the years I worked myself up to a Cleaning Supervisor, then when Dawn – the lady who did this job – left, I took over and became the Lost Property Supervisor. So I’ve done a bit of everything in the housekeeping department.

I started working here in September 1987 – a month after Sherwood Forest opened. I’ve seen a lot of changes since then. It feels nice to be one of ‘the originals’. It’s like a family – there’s quite a few of us in our department who’ve been here the same length of time – Dawn in laundry, Angela who’s my Head of Department.

“It feels nice to be one of ‘the originals’. It’s like a family”

I think the biggest single change I’ve seen from the start until now has to be the way we’ve gone with the luxury accommodation such as the Treehouses. When we first opened we had the basic 609 Lodges and we’ve just grown and grown. We’ve stepped up, repositioned ourselves to offer things like the different type of accommodation and room services in line with what our guests want.

What my job involves
It’s my job to log all the lost property that comes from the different areas of the Village, and accommodation on changeover days [Monday and Friday]. The other job is ringing guests or answering guests’ calls who’ve lost something – they can ring us from home or on the Village. We also return the items if the guests have gone home, so we do a postal service for them. We have log books to make a note of all items, the day we received it, where it came from and where it’s going.

“I should get some posters up in here – I like James Martin, the chef from the TV. He’s lovely”

The most common thing that gets left behind? Towels and phone chargers. It’s seasonal too: in winter it’s all gloves, hats and scarves but in summer it’s sunglasses. Of course, the big change I’ve seen is technology. I’ve seen a real increase in cameras, smartphones and iPads being handed in, as well as wallets and credit cards. The most shocking thing I’ve ever come across was an amount of money – £5,000 left down the side of a cot in a lodge. That was a few years ago.

My typical day at work
Lost property is open all week, every day. On Mondays and Fridays, I work 9 to 6, to cope with the increase in items handed into me on changeover days, which guests have gone home without. The rest of the week we work 9 to 4. I start every day with a cup of tea. Then I go to Guest Services to see if anything’s been left overnight – valuables in the pool, in any restaurants and so on. I come into my office, open up and start logging the lost property. It can also come through the day – it’s ongoing. I’m based in my office, it’s my own little world. I don’t see much of the outside, colleagues will come and say: ‘It’s snowing!’ and I’ll have to run outside to see. I should get some posters up in here – I like James Martin, the chef from the TV. He’s lovely.

My most memorable experience
I have a few. For example, last week. A lady had lost her engagement ring on Monday, the first day of her holiday. We’d had it handed in, so she came to Guest Services on Tuesday. I said: “I think this is yours”, she was crying – we were nearly all crying because she was so happy to have this ring back. It had gone on quite a journey and was a real team effort to get it back to her. But I get the nice bit – you’re a part of making their day.

“I always say to people: “Just use your imagination – anything you can think of, we’ve had it handed in”

On a personal note, a memorable and special experience was celebrating my 25th year here. I was presented with flowers and champagne. The ladies who work together through the week got together for a meal and I received some nice presents. You are looked after at Center Parcs, really well.

Strange but true
Well…I’ll have to tone it down a bit for this answer! We’ve seen all sorts of things come through lost property. I always say to people: “Just use your imagination – anything you can think of, we’ve had it handed in”. Needless to say, we got over embarrassment years ago.

But apart from that, I think the most peculiar thing would have to be a periscope. You just don’t expect it – we were in fits of laughter. When you think of periscope you think ‘submarine’ or ‘Navy’, why would you bring it on holiday? I don’t know whether it was being used in the pool or to see over the hedges. It was a proper thing, not a toy – you just wouldn’t associate a periscope with coming away to Center Parcs.

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Amy Dickson

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Amy Dickson

As Brand Content Manager I plan, create and curate the best articles, photos, videos and music for our channels, in particular the blog. With a degree in Journalism under my belt and many years’ experience in the big smoke as a journalist and editor, my focus is firmly on discovering the little gems hidden away in Center Parcs life, before buffing them up to make them sparkle online. From on-village events to the latest travel industry trends, I’ll be there – notepad in hand – to bring you the most entertaining and interesting stories.