Brothers Gwynant and Geraint Davies have celebrated the 50th anniversary of a caravan park opening on their farm in the beautiful Dyfi Valley near Machynlleth by raising £1,440 for the Wales Air Ambulance with the help of caravan owners.
Two hundred guests attended a celebration party in a marquee at Bryn Uchel Caravan Park, Cwmllinau last month when they donated £720 towards the charity, which the brothers pledged to match.
This week, they handed over a cheque to Diana Rowlands, North Powys fundraising co-ordinator for the Wales Air Ambulance. The brothers said they chose the charity because of its valuable, life-saving work in rural Wales.
They have first-hand experience of the air ambulance, having twice called it out to treat caravan owners who had been taken seriously ill. “The air ambulance is now an essential service for our rural communities at a time when there is so much pressure on funding for NHS services,” said Gwynant.
Mrs Rowlands thanked the brothers and caravan owners at Bryn Uchel for their generous support. “This money will go towards the running costs of the three air ambulances in Wales, which cost £6 million a year,” she said. “Every time the air ambulance takes off it costs an average of £1,500.”
Bryn Uchel Caravan Park is set with 300 acres of hills and wooded farmland. The brothers’ parents, Eirwyn and Nancy Davies, the village grocer in Cemmaes and a primary school teacher in Llanbrynmair respectively, bought the 120-acre Bryn Uchel Farm for £7,025 in 1960.
The farm was subsidised by Nancy’s wage for five years before the couple decided to diversify and open a caravan park, in the same year as Gwynant was born. The park initially had 10 caravans but expansion has seen it grow to 118 today, with planning permission received for a further 10 in the future.
In 2011, three years after their parents had died, the brothers decided to each concentrate their efforts on separate parts of the business. Gwynant took control of the caravan park, leaving Geraint to run the successful beef and sheep farm, which now extends to 700 acres.
Gwynant guided the park from a two to four star grading within three years by investing £250,000 in upgrading pitches, facilities and marketing. A major leap forward came with the launch of a website (www.brynuchel.co.uk), which now generates most sales leads and online marketing is supported by a blog and proactive social media presence.
Facebook is used to promote the park and surrounding towns and village by posting ‘what’s on’ and a local five day weather forecast every Thursday evening. Bryn Uchel is also promoted at major caravan shows in Manchester, Birmingham and Shrewsbury every year.
A sustainable tourism grant from Powys County Council helped to develop the website and a new children’s play area on the park. Gwynant has also received sterling support from the Machynlleth sales centre of award-winning caravan and motorhome dealership, Salop Leisure.
“Our ethos is to sell the area as well as the caravan park,” explained Gwynant. “People need to know what’s in the area before they buy and we offer excellent value for money.”
Most of the park’s caravan owners are from the West Midlands, while others come from North West England. Gwynant said he had discovered that prospective customers don’t want to travel more than two hours to their caravan, which makes Bryn Uchel an ideal choice and the Cambrian Coast is just half an hour away.
The park’s setting is stunning and the RSPB has recorded 45 bird species on the farm, including red kites. Three new nature walks have been launched and solar panels have been installed on an adjoining field to produce a quarter of the electricity used on the park, which has its own spring water supply.
A new £100,000 office and reception area, with free Wi-Fi, is due to start in January, with completion expected in May.
“I have an obligation to my parents to make the caravan park successful,” said Gwynant. “Part of the park’s success has been due to the good working relationship I have developed with Salop Leisure and Powys County Council over the years.”