Here Now Films are drawn to covering companies that are ‘in the business of doing good’. Ed Smit explains what excited them about Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park.
Why do some businesses make you really want to go back? As a video production company, we meet a lot of companies who are taking a big step to invest in telling the world about who, what, and why they are who they are. The more film’s we make the more we’re seeing a clear theme appearing that the companies that are doing best, the ones that have TOO many customers, and the ones that seem to weather every storm, depression, and possibly even a pandemic are those special companies that have a clear guiding reason for existing. These companies aren’t always loud, and no they’re not just cheap rip-offs of Patagonia. These are companies guided by principles and meaning, not profit. Often these principles are stories, not one-liners and that’s being felt in the ever bigger demand not in commercials but in branded documentaries… or a ‘documercial’ as we call them. There’s no clearer example of a company in the business of doing good than Cornwall’s own Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park.
Mother Ivey’s Bay
Over 20 years ago Patrick Langmaid took the helm of his family-owned Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park in Cornwall, today it’s not only the poster child of the perfect Cornish holiday, it’s also a brilliant example of being in business to do good.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
Well, firstly, the park needs a mention. Tropical palm trees and curated sub tropical beds top miles of drystone walls. This Mediterranean style of masonry creates booths and bays for each caravan to be nestled into, a sun trap to pause and rest. Each and every caravan looks out across a turquoise bay… after all this is the place to find “seven bays in seven days”. A dramatic headland just out across the bay sheltering its private beach from the prevailing winds and the iconic Padstow Lifeboat Station sits framed amongst its sheltering arm. This in its own right is enough to spark the imagination and book yourself a week in the sun. For many owners, this would be job done, I mean… If the bike ain’t broke, why fix it? Patrick Langmaid is on a mission to show a better way of doing business, one that benefits everyone, not just a few.
One of the first changes Patrick made after taking charge of the place was to clear a 100 plot space of all caravans and tenting pitches to allow the landscape to rewild. This was years ago now and well before rewilding had hit the mainstream. Today, the meadow is a hive of life. Why do it though? Speaking on top of the cliffs Patrick looks at the coast path that crosses the land. He spoke about the degradation of the landscape from so many people loving it and how he wanted to use the space as a buffer for wildlife on the boundary to the Atlantic. The big upside has been that every visitor to the site has felt like the space is open and free and because of it has had a better experience. After all… surely it can’t be a bad thing to decrease supply and increase demand?
The Living Wage
“The costs are too high and the risk will be too great”, that’s what Patrick was told when he began his journey in championing the Real Living Wage at Mother Ivey’s Bay. Undeterred, when Patrick first took over he took the plunge, and today he has one of the highest staff retention rates in the county and the customer service his guests receive is famous. Patrick believes that every business has the ability to use their platform for change… after championing the Living Wage on his site Patrick looked to his suppliers. When looking to buy more than 40 new caravans Patrick refused to buy from anyone who didn’t pay the real living wage, the result? One of the largest providers of caravans in the country began to pay the living wage just to secure Mother Ivey’s business. From suppliers to charities Mother Ivey’s support, if you’re not paying the Real Living Wage you are at risk of losing their business.
The Wildlife Trust
A few years ago Patrick was on holiday in The New Forest, after ordering the bill for a meal he noticed there was an added fee on the end of the bill “for the forest”. After asking about the added fee Patrick discovered that every customer of the hotel paid an added fee towards the restoration and protection of the forest. In love with the idea, Patrick brought it to Cornwall. Today, all his customers have the added option of paying a small fee towards the Wildlife Trust on their final bill of sale. When filming with The Trust they spoke to us about just how important it is for businesses to play a key role in fixing their local landscapes.
At the end of your stay, there is a big box to put all the non-perishable food that you haven’t eaten by the end of your stay. This food is collected and given to the local food bank every week. On top of that, Patrick puts events on throughout the year, from business meets and auctions to raising money for the local, volunteer-led, foodbank.
Across the bay from Mother Iveys is the famous Trevose Headland. A barrier to the westerly winds and a truly wild area of Cornwall. It’s home to hares and other rare wildlife that are gradually finding less space to call home. Now owned by the National Trust, Patrick has ensured that every year he runs a number of fundraising events to raise money for the work being done on the preservation and protection of this wild space.
The Lifeboat Crew Fund
One summer the local Wadebridge butcher came to Mother Ivey’s asking whether he could rent space on their private beach to set up a BBQ for the visitors. After thinking about it Patrick got back to the butcher with one condition. Together, they would use the BBQ to raise as much money as they could for the local Lifeboat Crew Fund. The rental fee for the space on the beach goes towards the fund and any extra profit from the butcher tops up the rest. Every Wednesday the BBQ would start at around 17:30 ready to watch the lifeboat launch at around 18:00. After a routine exercise, the crew would come to the beach and enjoy a beer and a burger on the beach.
The Holiday Association
One of the things Patrick is well aware of is just how lucky he and everyone who gets to enjoy Mother Ivey’s is. Every year, Patrick gives away a number of weeks to the Holiday Association, the association gives these spare weeks to families who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity.
Last but not least… in fact far from it, is Beach Guardian. Attending a talk about oceans and plastic, Patrick listened to a fledgling Beach Guardian organization speak about beach cleans and activism to make the world more conscious about the issues our ocean faces. Finding out that the organization was based less than a mile away from Mother Ivey’s he jumped at the opportunity to work with them. Today, Patrick pays for regular beach cleans across Mother Ivey’s beach and has placed signage about the organization and the cause, where ever he can Mother Ivey has reduced plastic and they’ve even got a fun can return scheme. Outside the shop there is a giant sand turner that sifts through sand, eventually, all that is left is microplastics… a fantastic education tool for all the kids who visit. Motheriveys also sponsored the organization to go to London as they protested to get Plastics more on the global scene.
On Mother Ivey’s site, you barely hear about all this work they do. They don’t shout and preach from the rooftops, they quietly get on with how they believe business should be run. The result? Everyone in Cornwall looks up to the organization as an example of doing things right. The visitors who come here get moments of surprise and meaning when they find out each and everything their favourite holiday location does. Most importantly what Mother Ivey has done is to be a voice in keeping its most important asset, the people and landscape around it, happy and safe. What better investment to the future than the bedrock of where you are.
The film we made is our shared attempt at communicating their purpose to the world.