We were delighted to be featured in the June copy of Gillingham, Dorset’s local newspaper, The Gillingham News. The article runs alongside a piece discussing tourism in North Dorset and references our part in supporting visitors to Gillingham with our bed and breakfast. You can read the story online here (choose the June edition, then scroll through to page 16) or it’s reproduced below for easier reading.
I’ve always said that I used to travel the world and that now the world comes to me – but even I was surprised when I worked out that we’ve hosted guests from over twenty countries so far!
Gillingham is open to the world
North Dorset may be low on the Dorset scale of visitor numbers, but Cleo Thompson’s bed and breakfast in Gillingham has played host to visitors from around the world.
‘Since we opened our doors, we’ve hosted nearly 600 people from 20 different countries including Italy, Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand and South Africa, and this summer we’ll be adding visitors from the USA, Thailand and Australia to that tally,’ says Cleo, who used to travel the world in her former corporate life but who now runs Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in the Wyke area of Gillingham.
‘I always ask people what brings them to Gillingham and the range of reasons is really interesting – it’s a microcosm of the town’s life. We’ve hosted lots of guests who are here due to an event or an activity at one of the schools; these have ranged from actors performing in a play at the high school, the cast of the Inside Out Dorset festival, a cyber security expert and a speaker from BBC Bristol.
‘We get a lot of cyclists, so far from the UK, Holland, Belgium and France, who are cycling National Route 25. We’re also starting to see a lot of walkers who are on the Stour Valley Way or using us as a base camp to walk the Blackmore Vale or around the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A recent big trend is people staying here to research their family history – that was true of the New Zealanders two weeks ago; they had ancestors buried in Mere and Motcombe churchyards and also of the Australian who checked out this morning after three nights.’
Garden fans are also visitors, visiting Stourhead and the Capability Brown-designed gardens at Sherborne Castle. ‘We also get dog owners who stay whilst their dogs are competing in various agility/other dog shows,’ says Cleo. ‘There’s apparently a Crufts 2018 qualifier show at the Showground in July – I have two dogs (and their humans) booked in across seven nights for that!’
Cleo also gets business visitors staying for one or two nights. ‘They are usually having business meetings with one of our key local employers such as Dextra, 918 Coffee, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Sigma-Aldrich.’
Cleo is a dedicated supporter of other local businesses. ‘I’ve sent almost 100 customers to Ristorante da Massimo at the Buffalo Inn,’ she says. ‘We also source as many of our breakfast items as we can from local suppliers; our guests particularly love 918 Coffee and Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt from The Dorset Dairy Company in Stalbridge and it’s not unheard for them to go home via the Udder Farm Shop to stock up on the yoghurt.
‘All of our guest rooms are fitted with black out blinds supplied by Sewards on Gillingham High Street, we provide complimentary dog treats made by Dorset Dog Delights, our locks were installed by Three County Locksmiths and our promotional material has been designed and printed for us by Wyke Print.’