The owners of a family-run funfair in Nottinghamshire have made the difficult decision to close. Alf and Winona Turvill, who have run the park within Sherwood Forest for more than 60 years, are set to retire this year.
The Sherwood Forest Fun Park in Edwinstowe features classic fairground rides such as the teacups, Astroglide and Tower of Terror. The cost of living crisis has made things more difficult but the family are determined to look on the positive side as Alf and Winona prepare to retire.
In an emotional post on Facebook, Mr and Mrs Turvill wanted to say 'an extremely huge thank you' to everyone who had worked at Sherwood Forest Fun Park or visited over the years. The family wrote on Facebook that they were sharing the news with a 'heavy heart and tears streaming down my cheeks'.
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The fairground has been in Edwinstowe for around 300 years with the Turvills running the site for 60 years. It was originally on the site of the visitor centre before moving across the road around five years ago.
The rich history behind the fairground has meant many families have been saddened by the news. The fairground has been open every day during the summer, from March until around November, with special openings for half-terms and insert days.
Justine Turvill-Wyld, the couple's daughter, said: "This is why it's so sad but with the cost of living now and the electricity bills, people are hanging on to their pennies a bit more. We have had a lot of school parties booked in for sole use of the fairground along with birthday parties and the youth hostel up the road book parties with us."
She added: "It's a decision that we have not taken lightly as we have thought about it for a long time. Things have been hard since we settled over into the new location. It's been something that has been in the back of our mind for the last couple of years."
Visitor numbers at the fair have quietened over the past year as many began travelling internationally again following the coronavirus pandemic. "We were very busy during Covid because local people were excited to get out of the house [in compliance with the restrictions at the time]. We thought this might be the beginning of things as it was a great atmosphere," Justine explained.
"But the minute that restrictions were lifted and people could go abroad, it died down. This summer, with the increase in electricity and things, people are hanging onto their money. My mum is 78 and my dad is 86 so for them to be doing the hours that they do is very hard.
"We are doing all we can do as a family but it's been very hard. There are a lot of factors involved such as keeping up with the maintenance side of things and the decrease in footfall. It's got to the point where we couldn't carry it on."
Visitors are encouraged to pop by to write in a memory book which they hope will be filled with photographs, newspaper articles and memories of the fair over the years. Many local residents will remember the park from their childhood or have memories of bringing their young children there.
The family also run the Robin's Den, which has been open for 30 years on High Street in Edwinstowe that offers contemporary gifts and cards. The family will now focus their attention on the shop which also sells Robin Hood-themed gifts including bows and arrows.
Visitors to the Sherwood Forest Fun Park were quick to wish the couple a happy retirement and share their memories describing the closure as 'end of an era' on social media. The park and family were described as an 'integral part' of Sherwood Forest and many described it as a loss for the area.
Justine said that many local families have visited the shop to share their memories and there have been a few tears over the announcement. Support for the couple has been incredible with well-wishers from all over the world getting in touch.
"If we were extremely busy then we would find a way of making it work but it's beyond that now. It's so sad because mum and dad have done so much for the village as they have been in the parish council and organised events in the village which is why they are so well known," she said.
"The support we have had from people all over the world has been incredible as we've had hundreds of messages. People have wished us well and no one is moaning or complaining. It's just been lovely messages on the retirement and people sharing their memories which is amazing."
Rob James, communications officer for the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, said: ”We were sorry to learn that Alf and Winona had decided not to renew their lease for the Fun Park, which had been a fixture in Edwinstowe for so many years. We wish them well for the future.”
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