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Weston grotto nominated for award

The owners of a Weston business are delighted after having been nominated for an award by a prestigious industry magazine.

Baytree’s Winter Wonderland has been named as one of the finalists in the Garden Trade News Greatest Christmas Awards, after the team worked tirelessly to create a COVID-safe grotto at the site in Weston.

Following a busy few weeks at the grotto, John Birch was thrilled to hear that the team was up for the Greatest COVID Safe Christmas Display Team award.

Santa and his helper at Baytree Winter Wonderland (43454476)
Santa and his helper at Baytree Winter Wonderland (43454476)

He said: “We are so pleased.

“I would like to thank our incredible team and Santa for their incredible work in making this possible.

“It has been great for the children to enjoy some Christmas magic when we weren’t even sure at certain points that we would be able to open at all.”

There was uncertainty surrounding the opening of the much-loved Santa’s grotto as the country entered the tier system of coronavirus restrictions with South Holland entering tier 3.

However, thanks to a Christmas specific set of rules released by the Government, the grotto was able to open later than planned on December 3 with a number of safety measures in place.

The team installed screens, hand sanitizer stations and even a new ride to make sure that bubbles would stay safe.

A booking system was introduced for the first time in order to reduce queuing and the layout of the grotto also altered to ensure social distancing was adhered to at all times.

John said: “We changed the grotto around a lot because the idea was to keep people in bubbles of five as Santa would make number six in terms of the rule of six.

“The new ride meant that only one bubble would fit on at one time, rather than the old ride which would have three families at a time.

“The mechanical scenes would usually be operated when people pressed a button but we changed those to keep people safe - there was one left which could be operated but there was hand sanitizer next to it.

“We also created a new entrance so that people would come straight to the grotto rather than entering via the garden centre to reduce any additional risk.

“The comments we received were amazing – people were so pleased for their children to have a bit of normality. A lot of people also commented on how safe they felt too. We were really thankful to the council’s Environmental Health Department too who were so informative and helpful.”

The Greatest COVID Safe Christmas Team award recognises teams that went the extra mile to make customers and staff feel safe by maintaining a COVID safe retailing environment, while remaining at the “top of its game” during the pandemic.

The winners are due to be announced in late January.

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