How a car accident drove me to my dream job at Center Parcs

After a bad crash on the way to his family break, Ian saw first-hand what working at Center Parcs is all about. And he wanted to be part of it…

Ian and his boys at Elveden Forest
Ian and his boys at Elveden Forest
Ian's 'office' - the Woburn Forest Security Lodge in the sunshine
Ian's 'office' - the Woburn Forest Security Lodge in the sunshine
Working in the woods: Woburn Forest scenery
Working in the woods: Woburn Forest scenery
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Ian and his boys at Elveden Forest
Ian and his boys at Elveden Forest
Ian's 'office' - the Woburn Forest Security Lodge in the sunshine
Ian's 'office' - the Woburn Forest Security Lodge in the sunshine
Working in the woods: Woburn Forest scenery
Working in the woods: Woburn Forest scenery

Last month, we brought you the story of Myra, one of our most remarkable and loyal guests. This month, the spotlight is on Ian Taplin, whose break at Elveden Forest was almost a write-off following a serious car accident. But a few years later, inspired by the team who helped get his break back on track, he’s a permanent member of our team.

This is his story…

“We’d been visiting Elveden Forest since 2002; me, my wife and our two boys. They were still in pushchairs the first time we went, just two years old.

In 2011, we decided to spend Christmas at Center Parcs. We were on our way to Elveden Forest, waiting at the back of a queue at some traffic lights, when a white van drove straight into the back of us.

The car was written off. I had whiplash and damaged my left shoulder from the force of the impact, but everyone else was fine. Thankfully, the boys were asleep.

Suffolk Police arrived and began taking their reports. But we still had a family break to begin! So we called Center Parcs to see if they would consider sending out a car to pick us up.

A member of their Security team arrived in a big car and we piled all our bags in from our own wreck. They drove us to Elveden Forest and – in an official Center Parcs car and with a police escort – we skipped the queue!

The staff were brilliant all weekend. The Duty Manager, Andy, arranged for all of our luggage to be taken to our Lodge for us, and ordered some emergency pizzas to keep our boys happy. He even brought gifts and a bottle of wine (much needed!) for myself and my wife.

With insurance and rental agreements to sort out, our break could have become an admin nightmare, but Guest Services helped us with everything. They even let us stay in our Lodge longer on our last day until our hire car had arrived. Back then I thought that was great but now, knowing how much pressure the teams are under on changeover days, especially at Christmas, I think it was nothing short of amazing.

I wouldn’t say the accident changed how I feel about Center Parcs because I’d been coming for years – I already knew it was something special. I knew how much effort everyone put in to their work and that the people are so good.

But it was the first time I really thought about what a great place it would be to work. I really appreciated how staff went the extra mile to keep people safe and happy.

That stuck with me. Around 18 months ago I retired from my career as a police officer. It was at the same time as Woburn Forest opened and I wasn’t quite ready to give up work for good. So when I spotted a vacancy in Security, I jumped at it.

Every day I go to work and my objective is to make sure other people have the best time they possibly can. I’ve seen it from both sides now so I know how much it can mean to you. I’ve been a guest and now I’m staff – though I’m still a guest too, we’re going to Whinfell Forest in a couple of weeks!”

We love hearing remarkable stories from our guests. Do you have a Center Parcs tale to share? Email us at your.story@centerparcs.co.uk

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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.