Water life

PUBLISHED: 06:46 23 June 2014

Katie Lawrence who is brand manager for boating at Hoseasons.
Pictured on board a Broom boat on the River Yare at Brundall.

Picture: James Bass

Katie Lawrence who is brand manager for boating at Hoseasons. Pictured on board a Broom boat on the River Yare at Brundall. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014

She grew up splashing around on the Norfolk Broads in her grandfather's boat that shares her name. She has run a bespoke Broadland charter company and organised boat trips in Egypt and Malaysia.

Throughout her life, Katie Lawrence has never been far from water and that’s why she loves her role now as brand manager for boating with Hoseasons holiday company. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the holiday business, but Katie believes there is a long future ahead for boating on the Norfolk Broads.

“At Hoseasons, 80pc of the bookings for this year are brand new to boating, so we are reaching out to new people to take it up,” she says. “People nowadays are wanting more ‘experience’ holidays - and on a boating holiday there is always something that you can go back home and tell your friends about, something that you will always remember.

“When I was growing up at Barton Turf, my dad, Jamie Hanger, worked for the Broads Authority for years and he used to have one of the smart looking launches. So any days off I always wanted to take it out on the water. My grandfather had a boat called Kate and we would play on her, moored up at Barton Turf.

“My brother, Rob, was a Broads Ranger and is now a member of Wroxham Sailing Club. And my mum, who has always been in nursing, works a couple of days a week on the Mississippi Paddle Boat and loves it. We have canoes and I go paddle boarding and I’m out on the water whenever I can be!”

The former Broadland and Paston schoolgirl learned to dive while in Australia, helped put together boat excursions in Egypt while working as a holiday rep, and also built elephant dams in Namibia with Raleigh International. She started her own business in 2008, Lola Charters from Wroxham, with her flagship vessel being a 35ft Fairline. Katie put together tailor-made trips for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. During the winter months she ran a boat charter in Malaysia.

Working at Hoseasons – main sponsor of the Broads Outdoor festival this month – Katie now feels she has found her niche, helping to develop the boating side of the business. Hoseasons provides holidays for more than a million people – and 46,000 pets – a year and has a collection of 1200 boats available in the UK.

“It is the best job in the world for me, where I can help encourage more people into boating. Boating holidays are still the lynchpin at the heart of the brand and we are working with some of the best boatyards in the area, covering everything from family-friendly to the Starboard Collection which I helped develop last year, a first class fleet to attact new audiences to boating.”

History of Hoseasons

Hoseasons Holidays began in 1944. Oulton Broad boatyard owner and harbourmaster Wally B Hoseason had become good at selling his own holidays and started to help out his boatyard neighbours. Within just two decades Hoseasons became a household name, expanding its holiday accommodation collection and spearheading the explosion in UK self-catering holidays. In the 1980s, Hoseasons developed an overseas offering on the waterways of France, and the next two decades saw it introduce more holiday accommodation into its collection – from country cottages to European lodges and parks. In 2010 the company become part of the US brand Wyndham Worldwide and today it offers a portfolio of more than 28,000 places to stay across the UK and Europe.

Simon Altham, Hoseasons’ managing director, says: “The Norfolk Broads has a special place in the hearts of all who work at Hoseasons. We hope that by focusing our efforts on bringing new customers to the Norfolk Broads, they too will fall in love with the Britain’s Magical Waterland, securing it as a firm national family favourite for the next 70 years.”

Broadland biography

Archive brochures from Hoseasons and other holiday companies on the Broads feature in Norfolk Broads, The Biography by Pete Goodrum ( Amberley, £16.99). This new book charts the story of the area from its origins as ancient peat excavations through to its emergence as an internationally loved holiday location.

Pete, who is a writer and broadcaster living in Norwich, explains: “The relationship between humankind and the Broads has been a complex one. An empty expanse became a working environment for peat diggers, who in turn gave way to marsh men, before the Broads became a place of recreation. From that moment the delicate balance between conservation and commerce came precariously into being.”

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