Todds Leap

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Todds Leap's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Todds Leap is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.toddsleap.com

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
50 | THE WENSLEYDALE RAILWAY PLC
The railway operates in a rural
part of North Yorkshire where the
predominant industries are agriculture
and tourism. The original focus
for our founders was to operate a
community transport system. For a
number of reasons – and not least
because of the lack of people within
the railway’s catchment area – this did
not work. Subsequently, the railway
has evolved, and while its aim has
changed, our ethos has not. We still
very much operate a railway for our
community – our methods have just
changedsomewhat.
We now bring in custom for small
rural businesses and also source as
much as we can from local suppliers to
ensure that we put money back into
the local economy. Our strategic goal
has always been to increase passenger
numbers, consequently benefitting
the local economy and enabling
projects such as the Heritage Education
Programme to be further developed.
Infrastructure – an ever-
present concern
Our single biggest threat is the
railway’s infrastructure. We lease our
tracks from Network Rail, and when
they were first leased, they were in
a very poor condition. We maintain
the line at our own expense, with
nosupport.
If we only had to maintain it for
our own use, this would suit us just
fine. As part of the lease agreement,
however, we are required to keep the
branch open for military traffic to and
from Catterick, the largest garrison in
Europe. The income we receive from
operating these sporadic trains is not
sufficient to pay for the wear they
place on the track.
I would like to see an obligation placed
on Network Rail, as a company funded
by the taxpayer, to assist heritage
railways like ourselves with material
swaps. This is not about free handouts,
but, rather, sensible agreements.
Network Rail generates huge amounts
of reusable material that is not
required for the operation of the
mainnetwork.
At present, Network Rail would say
that this is not possible thanks to
its other obligations. I would argue,
however, that the net benefit to the
country is greater than the small loss
potentially placed on it; this is certainly
the case when we put into perspective
the losses it suffers from now and its
inefficiencies in materials handling.
The second area that would be of
huge benefit is a re-evaluation of gift
aid criteria. We are a not-for-profit
organisation, but the company that
operates the railway is established as
a plc. We have looked at altering the
structure, but Network Rail prefers
that it stays the same as it is for
leasepurposes.
Therefore, we are unable to claim gift
aid on tickets – yet most other visitor
attractions can claim on the admission
fee. Any positive change here would
benefit not just our railway, but the
sector as a whole.
We still very
much operate
a railway for
our community
– our methods
have just
changed
somewhat
Scruton station
51TODDS LEAP |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
Founder Ben O’Hanlon, with
some of the 70-plus employees
from various departments of the
activity centre
Ben, with his family, who are
each involved in the day-to-day
operation of Todds Leap
Todds Leap attracts 80,000 visitors every year and has
become one of Northern Ireland’s leading outdoor
activity centres. Established as the first off-road centre in
Northern Ireland, it offers over 20 activities and caters for all
types of visitors, from corporate clients to stag weekends. To
adapt to quieter parts of the year, the team have diversified
their offering, which includes a winter wonderland as well as
a host of themed nights and annual events. Ben O’Hanlon
founded the centre and continues to work there today. He
tells
TheParliamentary Review
about their switch to digital
marketing and how their offering has evolved.
We offer a variety of fun outdoor adventures from our beautiful site in the forest and
countryside of Ballygawley, County Tyrone. With 80,000 annual visitors and a turnover
of £2.4 million, we have grown significantly since our inception 29 years ago. In
1990, when the centre opened, we were Ireland’s first off-road centre. Today, we are
a family-run business, with my four children involved in the day-to-day running of
the business.
We evolved from operating only on the weekends to being open the entire week. I
pulled out all the stops to build the centre from nothing into one of Ireland’s leading
outdoor activity centres. We offer over 20 activities and also have an award-winning
restaurant and bar, a conference centre, and accommodation, including a glamping
site. Visitors are able to eat, stay and play in a truly unique setting. Alongside
welcoming thousands of tourists from around the world, we also host annual
events, including summer open-park days, a Christmas winter wonderland, charity
FACTS ABOUT
TODDS LEAP
»Founder: Ben O’Hanlon
»Established in 1990
»Based in Ballygawley, County
Tyrone
»Services: Outdoor activity
centre
»No. of employees: 73
Todds Leap
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
52 | TODDS LEAP
mud runs, autism-friendly days and
themed dinner parties.
Continually developing our
offering
We have continued to evolve both
our site and our offering, and this
year we are opening new woodland
trails, Northern Ireland’s largest slide
and new adventure packages. We
work hard to ensure that our site and
activities are accessible for those of
all ages and abilities, and when they
are not, we work with individuals to
overcome any difficulties.
One of the key features that sets us
apart from any other visitor attraction
is our massive off-road track, which
intersects the entire site. Travelling
to an activity in the back of a Land
Rover Safari is truly an unexpected and
amazing experience.
Our mission is to provide an
exhilarating, outstanding, fun and safe
experience, delivering the ultimate
outdoor entertainment to every
customer, every time. We are open
seven days a week all year round. We
love to exceed visitors’ expectations
and hear the great feedback about our
friendly staff, the excellent food we
serve and the quality of our facilities,
as well as the activity or event they
participated in.
We aim to deliver excellence throughout
all aspects of the customer journey, from
the booking process to the experience
after the event. We constantly evaluate
how we can improve this journey and
our wideroffering.
In 2011, we focused on raising
standards in safety and motivating staff
to achieve excellence in customer care.
This led to professional accreditation
through several industry bodies,
including the Council for Learning
Outside the Classroom, which
awarded us their Quality Badge. We
were also accredited by the British
Activity Providers Association, which
safeguards standards of quality and
safety. Alongside this, we achieved
the Adventuremark badge from the
Adventure Activities Industry Advisory
Committee, which confirmed that all
of our activities had been inspected
against nationally recognisedstandards.
We have also received a four-star
grading from Tourism Northern Ireland’s
Visitor Experiences Grading Scheme
and have been projected to achieve
five stars on our next inspection. We
are also accredited to deliver nationally
recognised qualifications through the
OCN Centre and have received an
autism impactaward.
Delivering for each customer
segment
We are constantly adapting to meet the
needs of our customers. We strategically
plan how to individually target them,
and, to this end, we segment our
customers into five groups: corporate
business, hens and stags, schools and
educational, youth and community
groups, and family fun and tourists.
Elements of our sales team are assigned
responsibility for certain segments, and
they develop expertise and establish
relationships with these clients. We
developed specific packages, which
are promoted online, to meet the
A recent hen party
enjoying the giant
swing, just one of the
20-plus outdoor activities
available at Todds Leap
Our mission is
to provide an
exhilarating,
outstanding,
fun and safe
experience,
delivering the
ultimate
outdoor
entertainment
to every
customer,
every time
53TODDS LEAP |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
needs of each of these segments. In
order to target the corporate market,
we made a substantial investment in
a new conference facility and licensed
restaurant, complete with modern
equipment and complimentary wifi
access. Our youth programmes
target a range of needs, including
social integration, empowerment
and tackling substance abuse, and
to support the family-fun market, we
established open-park days. These days
see the park turned into a mini theme
park, with ten family-friendly activities
costing just £22.50 and children under
five getting in for free.
The past five years have also seen
huge shifts in our marketing strategy
as we have moved towards a digital
focus. Digital marketing offers us more
ways to target specific audiences and
demographics than was possible through
traditional media. We understand
that consumers are ever more reliant
on the internet to research products
before they buy them. To adapt to this
trend, we have created landing pages
which have been optimised for search
engine effectiveness, and we direct
our customers to TripAdvisor and
Facebook to review their experience
after theevent.
We also use various social media
platforms, such as Facebook and
Instagram, to engage with users and
spread awareness of our brand; we
upload photos, create content and
hold competitions. Recent video
marketing campaigns have proved
very successful, and we anticipate we
will increase their frequency this year.
These wider efforts are supported
by email marketing, which acts as
an inexpensive way for us to stay
connected with our customers.
One of the greatest challenges we
have faced is adapting to the quieter
periods of the year, particularly the
winter months. A nadir was reached
in 2012, when we did not receive
enough bookings to support our
growing workforce. Instead of laying
people off, we initiated the idea of
creating a “winter wonderland” event
and gave ownership of this project to
the staff. The idea has been a huge
success. It is now in its third year and
attracts over 10,000 visitors.
We offer a fun-loving environment
where creativity and innovation are
encouraged, and where no two days
are the same. There is a great sense of
camaraderie between employees, who
enjoy working with their colleagues and
are proud of where they work and what
they do, and we all make sure everyone
who visits us feels a part of that too.
We offer a
fun-loving
environment
where
creativity and
innovation are
encouraged
A key feature of Todds
Leap is the massive off-
road driving track. Todds
Leap was established as
the first off-road driving
centre in Northern
Ireland in 1990
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
52 | TODDS LEAP
mud runs, autism-friendly days and
themed dinner parties.
Continually developing our
offering
We have continued to evolve both
our site and our offering, and this
year we are opening new woodland
trails, Northern Ireland’s largest slide
and new adventure packages. We
work hard to ensure that our site and
activities are accessible for those of
all ages and abilities, and when they
are not, we work with individuals to
overcome any difficulties.
One of the key features that sets us
apart from any other visitor attraction
is our massive off-road track, which
intersects the entire site. Travelling
to an activity in the back of a Land
Rover Safari is truly an unexpected and
amazing experience.
Our mission is to provide an
exhilarating, outstanding, fun and safe
experience, delivering the ultimate
outdoor entertainment to every
customer, every time. We are open
seven days a week all year round. We
love to exceed visitors’ expectations
and hear the great feedback about our
friendly staff, the excellent food we
serve and the quality of our facilities,
as well as the activity or event they
participated in.
We aim to deliver excellence throughout
all aspects of the customer journey, from
the booking process to the experience
after the event. We constantly evaluate
how we can improve this journey and
our wideroffering.
In 2011, we focused on raising
standards in safety and motivating staff
to achieve excellence in customer care.
This led to professional accreditation
through several industry bodies,
including the Council for Learning
Outside the Classroom, which
awarded us their Quality Badge. We
were also accredited by the British
Activity Providers Association, which
safeguards standards of quality and
safety. Alongside this, we achieved
the Adventuremark badge from the
Adventure Activities Industry Advisory
Committee, which confirmed that all
of our activities had been inspected
against nationally recognisedstandards.
We have also received a four-star
grading from Tourism Northern Ireland’s
Visitor Experiences Grading Scheme
and have been projected to achieve
five stars on our next inspection. We
are also accredited to deliver nationally
recognised qualifications through the
OCN Centre and have received an
autism impactaward.
Delivering for each customer
segment
We are constantly adapting to meet the
needs of our customers. We strategically
plan how to individually target them,
and, to this end, we segment our
customers into five groups: corporate
business, hens and stags, schools and
educational, youth and community
groups, and family fun and tourists.
Elements of our sales team are assigned
responsibility for certain segments, and
they develop expertise and establish
relationships with these clients. We
developed specific packages, which
are promoted online, to meet the
A recent hen party
enjoying the giant
swing, just one of the
20-plus outdoor activities
available at Todds Leap
Our mission is
to provide an
exhilarating,
outstanding,
fun and safe
experience,
delivering the
ultimate
outdoor
entertainment
to every
customer,
every time
53TODDS LEAP |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
needs of each of these segments. In
order to target the corporate market,
we made a substantial investment in
a new conference facility and licensed
restaurant, complete with modern
equipment and complimentary wifi
access. Our youth programmes
target a range of needs, including
social integration, empowerment
and tackling substance abuse, and
to support the family-fun market, we
established open-park days. These days
see the park turned into a mini theme
park, with ten family-friendly activities
costing just £22.50 and children under
five getting in for free.
The past five years have also seen
huge shifts in our marketing strategy
as we have moved towards a digital
focus. Digital marketing offers us more
ways to target specific audiences and
demographics than was possible through
traditional media. We understand
that consumers are ever more reliant
on the internet to research products
before they buy them. To adapt to this
trend, we have created landing pages
which have been optimised for search
engine effectiveness, and we direct
our customers to TripAdvisor and
Facebook to review their experience
after theevent.
We also use various social media
platforms, such as Facebook and
Instagram, to engage with users and
spread awareness of our brand; we
upload photos, create content and
hold competitions. Recent video
marketing campaigns have proved
very successful, and we anticipate we
will increase their frequency this year.
These wider efforts are supported
by email marketing, which acts as
an inexpensive way for us to stay
connected with our customers.
One of the greatest challenges we
have faced is adapting to the quieter
periods of the year, particularly the
winter months. A nadir was reached
in 2012, when we did not receive
enough bookings to support our
growing workforce. Instead of laying
people off, we initiated the idea of
creating a “winter wonderland” event
and gave ownership of this project to
the staff. The idea has been a huge
success. It is now in its third year and
attracts over 10,000 visitors.
We offer a fun-loving environment
where creativity and innovation are
encouraged, and where no two days
are the same. There is a great sense of
camaraderie between employees, who
enjoy working with their colleagues and
are proud of where they work and what
they do, and we all make sure everyone
who visits us feels a part of that too.
We offer a
fun-loving
environment
where
creativity and
innovation are
encouraged
A key feature of Todds
Leap is the massive off-
road driving track. Todds
Leap was established as
the first off-road driving
centre in Northern
Ireland in 1990

www.toddsleap.com

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster