Homes sweet homes
It’s fair to say that Ken Sugars and wife Sue have bounced around the globe quite a bit. A hospital doctor and latterly general practitioner, Ken – feeling the need to broaden his horizons somewhat – joined the Royal Navy at the ripe old age of 33, serving for 16 years in the Far East and other parts of the world and reaching the rank of Surgeon Captain. “As a doctor, you go where you’re needed,” he muses now. “Doesn’t matter whether you’re a registrar at a hospital, a GP with a local ‘patch’ or an armed forces medico. The only difference is the size of the practice!”
After Ken’s Navy career ended in 1990, the couple settled in East Yorkshire, where they still live – “It’s a wonderful world out there,” says Sue, a physiotherapist, “and Ken and I were privileged to see so much of it; but ‘God’s own county’ takes some beating!” – and Ken spent the next decade working as a freelance doctor in Occupational Medicine for many different companies.
With thoughts turning to retirement, more leisure time, holidays and so on, slowly but surely the Holiday Property Bond became a persistent blip on the Sugars’ radar. “We kept seeing this advertisement in the newspapers,” says Sue. “It looked very attractive, but we thought it was probably some sort of timeshare in disguise. But we kept on seeing the thing, over and over, and eventually curiosity won out over caution.” Clearly, it pays to advertise…
The Sugars’ first visit was to an HPB open day at Bell End Farm, near Rosedale in the North York Moors. “That was enough,” Ken remembers. “We could see straight away that this was no timeshare operation. The standard of the properties was first class, the location was stunning, and we liked the people we met, both Bondholders and HPB employees – but ironically enough the fact that there was no hard sell was what really sold it! It wasn’t a case of ‘take it or leave it’ – but facts and figures were clearly explained, and we were then allowed to make up our own minds in our own time.”
In the years since, the Sugars have been, let’s say, enthusiastic Bond holidaymakers. “We’ve nearly exhausted the UK portfolio,” laughs Sue. “But that’s OK because we never see everything we want to see in a week, so we have a good excuse to go back. Also, it’s nice to stay in a different property on a familiar site; all the properties have their own characters, so that keeps it fresh.”
Ken and Sue have been almost as keen on their overseas homes, too. To date, they have holidayed at all the Bond’s French sites – Constant in the Dordogne, Le Manoir du Hilguy in Brittany, and Le Mont de St Siméon in Île de France – twice apiece; Rocha Brava on Portugal’s Algarve; and El Balcón de Santa Ana in La Gomera, the Canary Islands.
La Gomera is a favourite with daughter Melanie, too – who has visited the site with her partner and children, along with Constant and St Brides Castle in Pembrokeshire.
“Both our children – Melanie and her brother, Andrew – are named on the Bond,” says Ken. “Melanie has had more opportunity to use it than Andrew, who lives with his partner and kids in Germany. But we’re all booked in to St Siméon this summer – a gathering of three generations of Sugars – and we can’t wait. I particularly can’t wait to see Andrew’s face when he gets his first look at an HPB site, and meets the wonderful [site manager] Hilary [Renault].
“He’s been sceptical about the Bond. But I know that he’ll be just as bowled over as the rest of us.”
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