RIVERSIDE Caravan Park owner Thomas Marshall has been elected national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association which brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 UK parks in an industry worth some £9.3 billion.

Mr Marshall and his family are currently celebrating Riverside's fiftieth year of welcoming holiday guests to Bentham and the wider Yorkshire Dales.

In his new role, Mr Marshall, 60, will take on a range of responsibilities, including liaising with government ministers and departments on issues affecting the parks industry.

It's a task for which he is well qualified having served as the association's vice chairman for the past three years, as well as its regional branch director for 20 years.

Like the majority of parks in membership of BH&HPA, Thomas's Riverside Caravan Park in High Bentham has been family owned for successive generations.

It evolved from a beef and sheep farm into a multi-award winning holiday park providing over 250 holiday caravans plus 110 touring pitches.

The business, which also owns the 18-hole Bentham Golf Course and adjoining Wenningdale Escapes park is today run with the help of Mr Marshall's wife, Jane, daughter Isabel, and son John.

He says he is proud to be taking the reins of the park industry's 65-year-old official body, and sees significant new opportunities on the horizon for the sector:

"During two challenging years of the pandemic, parks fluctuated between coping with enforced closures and unprecedented demand for domestic holidays," he said.

"As we emerge from the crisis, it's becoming clear that many families are keen to continue enjoying a UK holiday experience in the relaxed environment which parks provide.

"But this also presents us with the challenge of ensuring that we carry on delivering a high quality and constantly evolving product to ensure the staycation trend continues.

"I've every confidence we can succeed, and BH&HPA provides the perfect platform on which we can all come together to share our knowledge and experiences in order to help each other.

"Important too will be the association's longstanding role of promoting the principles of green tourism and engaging with local communities."

Thomas is himself actively involved in local affairs including 24 years of office on Bentham Town Council.

He supports many local good causes, from the village's alms house committee, to the annual carnival.

Riverside Caravan Park and Wenningdales Escapes has recently embarked on a £1.5 million investment in new luxury holiday lodges and glamping pods.