Pensthorpe Natural Park has been named the winner of the Marketing Campaign of the Year award, sponsored by Pear out of Home, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.

Pensthorpe Natural Park is a family-friendly nature reserve located in Fakenham, Norfolk. It was created by Bill and Deb Jordan, who bought the estate from conservationist Bill Makins in 2003.

Home to over 1,200 different species, Pensthorpe allows visitors to get closer to nature via interactive trails, bird hides and several boardwalks.

In the summer of 2021, Pensthorpe launched its Secret Garden campaign, which combined storytelling, activities, social media and print to encourage visitors to spend a day in its 700-acre “garden”.

The Secret Garden Wildlife Trail took visitors across the park, allowing them to explore the sculpted gardens while engaging with interactive elements. Free activities, such as pond dipping, storytelling and craft-making were also on offer.

Calling the campaign both “creative and inclusive”, the judges praised Pensthorpe’s ability to engage an eager audience that needed to be stimulated during a time that still had many restrictions.

Natalie Douglas, marketing director at Pensthorpe Natural Park, said: “We’re going to celebrate with the whole team – every single person works so hard. The experience we produce is for the whole family and it’s a pleasure to be nominated.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve given people the opportunity to enjoy the play areas and the gardens. And we also gave away things like seed packets, so people could create the experience at home, while encouraging the children and families to send us their pictures.”

About the sponsor

Pear Out of Home is a leading UK distributor and media owner. It specialises in print and affordable Out of Home materials for tourism, arts and heritage.

The team integrates digital and print solutions to help target the family, visitor, arts and sports markets.

Pear holds exclusive contracts for digital screens, posters and brochure distribution stands in supermarkets, transport hubs and in the community.

Pear is also the only full motorway service provider in the country – perfect for reaching staycationers!

The finalists

Best of Suffolk – Highly Commended

Best of Suffolk in Badingham’s Tried and Tested blog series saw the team engage with the public by showcasing one of its 380 holiday properties, which the judges said was “a great testament” to the power of adding a human element to a campaign.

Potters Resorts – Highly Commended

Potters Resorts in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk continued to entertain its social media audience throughout the pandemic and various enforced closures, gaining new followers and raising £20,000 for multiple causes.

The judges called this a “great example” of commitment to exemplary customer experience.

Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park

In 2020, a new programme took viewers behind the scenes with the staff and animals at Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park in Wherstead, Suffolk.

The judges praised the business’ subsequent social media activity, which increased the longevity of the programme’s impact.

ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure

In 2021, ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, Norfolk staged the mock escape of its animatronic T-rex in order to attract summer visitors.

The judges said this county-wide campaign showed a “truly imaginative” use of a limited budget with alignment to the park’s objectives.