My Center Parcs history
My name is Margaret Alice Cardy and I’ll have been working at Center Parcs for 15 years on May 17th. I’ve always worked in the housekeeping department, but I started as a cleaner and am now assistant supervisor. My job mostly involves checking other people’s work to make sure it meets our standards. I’m meant to just check but more often than not I’ll give the girls a hand.
I enjoy my job; after I’ve finished I come out with a feeling of satisfaction. More importantly, guests pay a lot of money to be here and they deserve quality accommodation that is properly cleaned.
Before Center Parcs I was a full-time carer to my partner, who had cancer. Before that I worked in an old folks’ home. When my partner died I just needed to get out the house and get back into work, so I applied for a cleaning job here at Whinfell Forest. I was gobsmacked because I’m awful at interviews and wasn’t expecting to get the job. But here I am, 15 years later.
My typical day at work
I live 52 miles away and get a bus here and back. It takes more than an hour to get to work because the bus goes through lots of other villages. I get picked up at 8am and will arrive here around 9.45am. The journey time doesn’t bother me – it’s a job. Sometimes I knit on my way in, or I’ll have a little sleep.
Once I get to the office, I have to have a cup of tea before going out. I work for a couple of hours then the girls and me will come back for lunch. I like to sit in the housekeeping lodge, when I can I’ll sit outside on the steps in the nice weather and fresh air. For lunch I like my porridge, but I’ll be moving on to salads before long.
“Some of my colleagues say I do too much. But if it’s satisfied the guest, why not?”
If I had to pick one best bit of working here, it would be meeting everyone – both guests and staff. If I’m walking around the Village and spot someone I’ve never met before, I’ll always ask who they are. I mean, we’re just human aren’t we?
I work with a great bunch of lasses; my team keeps me sane. I didn’t know many of them before I started working here but now we’re all close. We’re like a family and everyone is there for each other. I lost my son 8 years ago and people really made an effort to reach out to me; I’ll always remember that. I don’t know how I would have coped without them. Just being here at work, cleaning…it took my mind off the pain I was feeling.
Most memorable experience
I must have met hundreds of guests and families, but there are always one or two that stick in my mind. There was a family with a little lad who visited around Easter – he was only about 4 or 5 years old. I’d visit the Lodge to do my daily maid service and every day the mum would say: “No need to hoover, my little one’s done it already!” And he had – every single day, the whole Lodge would be done. So I’d go in and say thank you, and tell him what a great job he’d done. On his last day I took him round an Easter egg. His little face lit up; it was just lovely to see.
Another day, I went into a Lodge and the guests were making their own bread. My god – it smelled incredible. The guest said: “I’d bake you some but we don’t have any flour left,” so I asked what flour they needed and that I’d bring her some; I think she thought I was joking. The next day, I knocked on their door – flour in hand. She was stunned. On their departure day I went in to clean the Lodge after they’d gone. There on the table was a batch of homemade tea cakes. They were delicious!
I have a special relationship with guests. The girls I work with say I’ve got the gift of the gab, but the key is that I really will do anything – not just cleaning – for the people that stay here. I’ve fed babies, changed nappies, peeled potatoes and helped to make cauliflower cheese. I’ve even helped with their knitting.
Some of my colleagues say I do too much. But if it’s satisfied the guest, why not? Isn’t that what’s it all about?