A family business that has always been ahead of its time, Hardy’s Animal Farm – now a thriving family attraction on the gold coast of Lincolnshire – was once upon a time dedicated to arable farming.
A rural enterprise that has been passed down through Jo Hardy’s husband, Stuart’s, family, the farm saw Stuart’s grandfather champion diversity way before his time. Its transformation from arable farm to family attraction began in the 30s with a touring caravan site, ensuring Hardy’s was deep-rooted within the coastal community from the get-go.
Stuart’s grandfather understood the need to branch out and embrace tourism, a trend and passion that the Hardy family has continued ever since. Still very much a family affair – with every Hardy having a key role within this incredible business -today, the animal farm and subsequent businesses – including Meadows Holiday Park – operate under the watchful eye of Jo Hardy, Business Operations Manager and proud champion of the coastal offering Lincolnshire boasts.
“Destination Lincolnshire will be the conduit between our visitor economy businesses and the world outside our borders. Attracting people to the county and bringing them all the way out to the coast, through the city and the countryside and back again is a vital message and Destination Lincolnshire is the DMO to do that.
"As a newly realised DMO, one that incorporates the entire county, Destination Lincolnshire will also be our champion when it comes to attracting further investment from outside the county. From those looking to relocate to investors and visitors too.
"It is a fresh voice with excellent connections to the likes of Visit England and the Midlands Engine where people are looking to do things differently. We, as a community of businesses so badly need that. Lincolnshire is mainly made up of small and medium businesses, so if we work together with the weight of Destination Lincolnshire behind us, what we have to offer will only be greater, and ready for when Destination Lincolnshire puts the spotlight on everything Lincolnshire has to offer.
"Destination Lincolnshire will be working to change the hearts and minds of visitors. As a DMO it has a huge opportunity to bring together partnerships that can really work together - there is power in partnerships after all. Destination Lincolnshire can act as the bridge between us all. It is a voice that can remain impartial and work to bring all the visitor economy businesses together.
"Having that singular voice is vital in an industry such as this, which is rapidly expanding. Even in the last seven years, since I joined the family business, the landscape of the visitor and tourism economy has changed dramatically. Not only that but we have learnt so much and discovered just how important our seaside towns are to people, and not just in regard to their revenue.
"There’s a very nostalgic, generational element to visiting this part of the coast. Trips to Ingoldmells and the surrounding towns are passed down through generations – from all over the UK. So, ensuring we are not only attractive enough to draw people to the coast but appealing on a basic operational level is crucial. And that’s where funding lets us down. The biggest issue we’ve had is the neglect of the coast at a utility level. Lincolnshire really needs to stop being embarrassed about its coast and push investment this way. Which is one of my big hopes for Destination Lincolnshire.
"Sustainability is a big thing for everyone at Hardy’s, and for many of us living and working along the coast. We have the incredible opportunity to embrace the net carbon objectives and embrace renewable energies. If we’re smart and innovative and reject the fear of embracing new things and moving forward, we can accomplish great things.
"We need to think about, and action, what we can do to protect the coast. And, in turn, question what can we do to make even those defences appealing to visitors. It’s time to push the boundaries and embrace some of the incredible initiatives that other countries are championing. It’s time to move the coast into the next phase and lead the way in innovation. And Destination Lincolnshire is the DMO to help us do that.
"Moving back home to Lincolnshire, from the thick of it in Canary Wharf, Stuart and I moved from the corporate world to the rural one, and to be honest, it was a shock. But we were ready to move. I really do love businesses, where ever they may be. I like to understand them, see what makes them tick and how they remain productive. So, for me, looking after the intricacies of the family business is a fantastic challenge.
"Escaping to the countryside and coast was a big thing for us, as it now is for so many people in the wake of Covid. Everybody has realised their love of the outdoors and reconnected with it in recent years, so that sense of exploring what is on your doorstep is ripe at the moment. We need to act on this now, and with Destination Lincolnshire, we can.
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