18 May 2023
A 56-year-old Omar Ranchhouse that exceeded all expectations for its owners.
Although park home construction is different from bricks and mortar properties, they are more robust and have a longer lifespan than many people think. We often hear of them having a very long life in the hands of owners who look after them well.
One such story emerged recently thanks to Anne Davidson, whose sister Marjory Williams and her friend Diane Pearce bought an Omar Ranchhouse on Whipsnade Park back in 1967.
Both were highly respected professionals in the dog world. Marjory was a dog handler who notably bagged a Crufts double, going on to act as a judge and one of the top experts. She handled many breeds of dog but specialised in German Shepherds, and she was in such demand and so popular with owners that she once handled 16 dogs in one show.
Diane was one of the most respected dog photographers of her generation, working at all the major shows, either for the ‘Dog World’ publication or for owners and breeders, photographing most of the famous award-winning dogs of her era.
Their work took them all over the UK and abroad, so they needed a safe and secure home base to come back to between shows. It’s unsurprising then, that life in a park home community appealed to them. They would have had their pick of potential locations before teaming up to buy a new Omar home at Whipsnade Park.
Their brand-new Ranchhouse stood proud in a 40ft x 10ft 6’” footprint, and they paid the princely sum of £1432 for it back in 1967. We were fascinated to see the floor plan used for sales as it was precise even back then, with an option of how many bedrooms required – very much like today. The order sheet was a little simpler than today’s detailed specification sheets, with a few handwritten notes requesting minor modifications.
Over time, they made improvements to the home to keep it up-to-date and to make sure it could still cater for their needs. Anne said, “Marjory never threw anything away but somehow, they didn’t run out of space. The only time that could have been an issue was when we went to stay with them as a family, and then they slept in the lounge to make way for us. We were impressed by the lifestyle, and it inspired us also to look for an Omar home in Aberdeenshire, although unfortunately we couldn’t find a park nearby at the time and ended up in a flat instead. We have lovely memories of staying with them there and they were very happy. They both had such a positive outlook, worked hard, were high achievers and lived life to the full, enjoying plenty of trips away and cruises. They knew that their home was safe, and the fact that it was inexpensive to run probably helped them to live how they wanted to.”
Whipsnade was a pet friendly park which allowed homeowners to make their plots individual and characterful. It was a location they all clearly enjoyed immensely. Marjory and Diane obviously looked after their home and plot really well, and that’s evident in the photos of their home when they moved in, and the second image once it had all matured a bit.
Although they would have chosen it as a home they could settle down in indefinitely, they would probably never have foreseen exactly how well that worked for them. Marjory (29) and Diane (32) bought their home while they were relatively young. Their Omar home would serve them well for the rest of their lives, outliving their need for it. Age restrictions came later as the park evolved, and by that time they were fully qualified as residents over the age of 50. The industry has changed a little since they made their purchase.
As new homeowners they explained their choice of park to Anglia TV who were filming in the village, Diane said; “Too many of them were too regimented. I had enough of uniform and regimentation in my navy days and that’s another reason I think Whipsnade is so ideal”. She continued “Whipsnade Park has a certain individualism. Owners can create their own style with décor and their beautiful gardens. You can feel and see the friendliness of others who appear to love life here as much as we do. “
Their story was originally documented in 2007, 40 years after they moved in, by the park’s newsletter, Whipsnade Park Matters, so by then they had been living in their home for many years and were keen advocates of the lifestyle.
They treasured their beloved home as much as the location, and Marjory’s sister Anne said the paperwork from their purchase was all kept together and in one safe place. Writing to Omar to congratulate them for the quality of their home construction, Anne commented; “We, as Marjory’s family from Scotland, had many happy holidays at Whipsnade with Marjory and Diane. Omar should be very proud of their mobile homes and hopefully you will continue to have many more happy customers for many years to come.”
Sadly, Diane died in 2011, and Marjory also passed away in October 2022, just a day shy of her 85th birthday. The home was disassembled in February this year, having been a star performer for its lovely owners, ready to release the plot for the next potential owners to enjoy.
Anne has stayed in touch with their neighbours so has retained a connection with the park. “It was sad to see the home broken up. Had Marjory not died it would probably have lasted her a good bit longer but maybe someone else can now enjoy the plot in a new home, just as they did,” she concluded.
Speaking on behalf of Whipsnade Park, owner Gill Ponsford said; “They were very pleasant residents to have living on the park.”
Omar Group’s Sales Director Lee Baxter said, “We were thrilled to receive the letter from Anne telling us how happy Marjory and Diane were in their home, and how impressed they were with it, although we were obviously sad to hear of their passing. They clearly led full and active lives and were both quite remarkable. There’s nothing we love more than hearing how well our homes have performed, and we are grateful to Anne for enabling us to hear the full story from start to finish.”