Christmas at Newquay Zoo 2001

Staff Christmas Carols at Newquay  Zoo 2001 (Newquay Voice article, 20 December 2001

2001. It was the year of George W. ‘Dubya’ Bush.

It was the  year Wikipedia was born –

2001. This was the year of Scrooge and a Christmas Carol at Newquay Zoo as  our Christmas theme. It had been a difficult year at Newquay Zoo.

It was the year of Foot and Mouth disease in the UK with zoo closures. Fuel Strikes … the September terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in America  on 9/11 … the invasion of Afghanistan … a Merry Christmas 2001 then!

Our Staff Carol Service 2001, open to the public, had a retiring collection that year in for overseas conservation projects, Marc Moase’s charity and  the support fund for rebuilding the newly liberated and badly war damaged Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan. Some of the staff and Newquay membership families (including from the RAF airbase at St Mawgan) had relatives involved in this conflict, so a tense time for many.

On the bright side, amongst the faces in the photo are young student volunteers from the first year  of our new partner college Cornwall College Newquay courses (still then  in temporary buildings on Treloggan Industrial estate). Skip forward to 2016,  it’s still going strong 15 years later in purpose built campus next to Newquay Zoo, with hundreds more students and many more wildlife and conservation courses. Some of our current keeping staff were Cornwall College students during these early years.

A happy moment of smiles and growly singing of carols relaxing together at the end of a difficult year.

Photo; from left to right standing:

Mark Macnamee (site), Steve Howard (gardens), Katie Pound (student volunteer), Neil? (Tropical House keeper), Gert (site), Jon Stark (student / keeper), ? (student volunteer), Ria (keeper), Mark ‘Cheski’ Tomaszewski (keeper), Nick Callender (keeper), John Meek (Animal Manager), Les Beckett (site), Wendy Winstanley (wildlife hospital / keeper), Mike Winstanley (keeper), Fred Thornhill (volunteer).

Kneeling at front: Michelle Turton (marketing / graphics), Mark Norris (education), Jane Oddy (retail). Newquay Zoo Christmas service 2001.

The sax playing Head Gardener at the time (referred to in the article)  may have been Claire Batten? (now a Chelsea Gold medallist with Penberth Plants.)

Looking back, many of these staff and students have moved on to successful careers and conservation work elsewhere. Some staff such as  Les Beckett have long retired, another, volunteer Fred Thornhill, has now passed away.

As our visitor membership and Newquay Zoo has grown up and changed, a few years ago  we stopped holding the Zoo Carol Service (hosted for many years by Reverend  Peter Long) as numbers attending slowly shrank from the prospect of singing outside on a cold dark December Sunday afternoon!

Three of the staff in the centre of the photo – Senior Keeper Mark Tomaszewski, Education Officer Mark Norris and Curator John Meek – still work here 15 years later (2016)  at Newquay Zoo, now run as part of charity by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Happy Christmas to our blog readers from the Christmas Past, Present and Future staff of Newquay Zoo!


Blogposted by Mark Norris for Christmas 2016 as part of our monthly blog of random photos or objects from our Newquay Zoo Archive, working  towards our 50th birthday / anniversary in May 2019.



Author: worldwarzoogardener1939

World war zoo gardener and zoo educator at Newquay Zoo Cornwall UK

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