Time to wave off Sandcastle Waterpark boss John after 25 years at the helm of Blackpool attraction

Blackpool is waving goodbye to the man who transformed one of its seafront attractions to be among the best of its kind.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 10th June 2022, 4:51 pm

John Child joined the Sandcastle Waterpark just weeks before it opened in June 1986 and is saying farewell after 25 years in charge of the venue on South Promenade.

The 59-year-old is sailing off to pastures new - aiming to use his expertise in the hospitality industry on an international stage, with Blackpool leisure operator Merlin tipped to take over the running of the council-owned attraction.

John's exit comes exactly 36 years after joining the Sandcastle's original team as a lifeguard on June 9 1986.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sandcastle Waterpark managing director John Child is leaving the attraction for new challenges

Over the decades he has overseen a transformation from a leisure pool which was proving a drain on council resources, to one of the resort's most popular visitor destinations and the largest indoor waterpark in the UK.

Last year it had its most profitable year ever as holidaymakers poured back to Blackpool after lockdown, delivering a £900,000 dividend to the council to be reinvested in services.

John said: "After 25 years at the helm, the time is right for me to move onto new challenges but I'm leaving a very strong team and the Sandcastle is in a fantastic place.

"I will miss all the people I've worked with, and the community and I'm proud of everything we've achieved over the years.

Sandcastle Waterpark

"I have always enjoyed training and mentoring people and to me the golden rule is that guest services are excellent, and I think that is what the Sandcastle's reputation is built on.

"In 2006 I was super proud to see the Sandcastle change properly from a leisure pool with a show bar, to a proper water park and that is when the name changed too."

The changes followed investment in the Sandcastle in the early 2000s of around £4.5m by the council in new water slides which twist around the exterior of the building.

It paid off with the venue seeing an increase in visitor numbers. Since then there has been further investment with the venue now boasting 18 slides and attractions.

Other improvements overseen by John include the introduction of wristbands to make the venue cashless, while the pandemic prompted the adoption of three hour sessions bookable online which has cut back on queues.

However John says his proudest achievement is creating a disabled- friendly environment to ensure the water park is fully inclusive for all its patrons.

He said: "Ever since I was 14 years old and did voluntary work I have always wanted to remove barriers for disabled people.

"Being able to get people here who never thought they could go to a water park, whether that's by making alterations to the slides or improving changing facilities, is something I have always made sure of."

The father-of-three is happy with the legacy he is leaving behind, and is even leaving a blueprint for the future operators of what he hopes might be the next phase of development.

He adds: "I started working in tourism in Blackpool as a 14-year-old clearing tables. It's been an absolute blast, but now I'm ready for something new."