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Meet the Flamingo Land-mad family

The Chapman family
The Chapman family

All  of us have our favourite holiday destination, but the Chapman family has turned its into a 25-year romance.

Members of one Fylde Coast family have spent a quarter of a century holidaying each year to Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire.

The Chapman family

The Chapman family

The family, who have a Blackpool TV installation company, have been going to the theme park and zoo since 1993.

The Gazette spoke to Annetta Chapman, who planned the first holiday 25 years ago, along with her daughter Dawn, 38, and daughter-in-law Stacey, 28.

Sixty-year-old Annetta was also joined by eight of her nine grandchildren.

She explained that it was one of her husband David’s friends who recommended the resort to them in the early 90s.

The family at Flamingo Land

The family at Flamingo Land

She said: “One of Dave’s friends went and told us about it and we thought we would give it a go.

“You would pay one entry fee to get into the park and that would guarantee you entry for the whole holiday.

“You can stay as long as you like and go on as many rides as you like and it was really cheap, even in those days.”

“The kids have always loved it, especially the rides and the animals.

The family at Flamingo Land.

The family at Flamingo Land.

“Dawn was 13-years-old when she first went and we took a couple of her friends for a few years as well.”

Dawn laughed and added: “We always had a good time and the nightlife was ace, meeting friends and boyfriends.”

For the first holiday in 1993, Annetta and David took Dawn and her two younger brothers Wayne, now 33 and Darren, 31.

Over the years the family has grown and now 20 of them go on the holiday.

Sophia Mason and Lewis Chapman, both aged 7.

Sophia Mason and Lewis Chapman, both aged 7.

Dawn, a civil servant from Lytham, said for a few of the holidays there has always been one of the family pregnant.

She said: “Each of us have been pregnant while at Flamingo Land.

“My mum was pregnant with my youngest brother Ryan on our first year.

“So in total there has been seven pregnancies.

“It’s a special one this year for Elsie and baby Aidan as it will be their first visits, especially as Aidan is only seven weeks old.”

The family tow their five touring caravans to the park in Malton, North Yorkshire, but dinner lady Annetta explained the journey is never always simple.

The family at Flamingo Land.

The family at Flamingo Land.

She said: “We used to stay in the big static caravans at the site and just took our cars but we eventually had too many people coming.”

The three women described how the park has changed over the years and how it has improved.

Dawn said: “The rides have definitely improved over the last 25 years. The zoo has more animals than before as well but you don’t see the polar bears anymore which is a shame.

“There is a few breeding programmes at the zoo which is really nice.

“The entertainment has always been good and for what is a caravan park, the show performances are always superb.”

Housewife Stacey added: “One of the other things which makes a difference is how clean the park is. There isn’t any rubbish or mess laying around and it’s always good to see.

“There is something for everyone, even us adults, and the fact we experienced it when we were young means it is really good to see the kids enjoying it as well.

“Having the whole family there is the best part. We wouldn’t want to go on our own as its the family aspect which makes it great.”

They said they have ended up with a lot of Flamingo Land gifts over the years.

Stacey said: “The amount of money we have spent on stuffed toys is a lot!”

Dawn added: “Every child that we have taken, we always have to go and get another teddy so we have ended up withplenty.”

Dawn is the only one who will take a holiday abroad each year but the Flamingo Land trip is her main break.

She added: “The biggest struggle going abroad is taking the kids through the airports and transfers and then managing to keep them entertained when on holiday not to mention the cost of it all as well.

“Holidaying in the UK, you don’t have those sort of worries plus you get babysitters on tap.

“We have stayed together and this has been our main holiday for 25 years and we have brought more into the mix along the way.”

Annetta said: “It’s just nice to be together for our holiday.”

Stacey added: “We want to go when our children have children and we are grandparents.”

A Flamingo Land spokesman said: “We are delighted to welcome them back for their holiday together as a family.

“We will do our best to make their stay as memorable as possible. They must have seen some amazing changes.”

Who goes on holiday?

Dawn Chapman , 38, and Joseph Mason, 36.

Children: Sophia, seven, and Harvey Mason, two

Wayne, 33, and Sarah Chapman 30.

Children: Jessica, four, and Brandon Chapman, three.

Darren, 31, and Stacey Chapman, 28.

Children: Lewis seven, Scarlett five, Amelia, three and Aidan Chapman, seven weeks

Ryan Chapman, 24, and Amanda Overson, 24.

Child: Elsie Chapman, 11 months

Flamingo Land history

Flamingo Land opened in 1959 and was originally called The Yorkshire Zoological Gardens. Cinema entrepreneur, Edwin Pentland Hick, sold his cinema chain and used the funds to purchase a bankrupt country club to use the land for the zoo.

A colony of flamingos were among the first animals to have a home at the zoo and in 1968 the park was renamed to Flamingo Park Zoo and it was during the 1960s a small funfair began to be held on the site.

In the 70s the amusement rides became a permanent fixture of the park along with the zoo, the first site in Europe to combine the two attractions, and it underwent a revamp renaming itself Flamingo Land.