Retford

The family of the founder of Sundown Adventureland, who spent over 50 years at the helm, paid tribute to a “special lady” after her death from a short illness this week.

Audrey Rhodes started the business with her husband John in 1968 from the back garden of their bungalow before it became a popular children’s theme park. It is located in Rampton near Retford, only half an hour from Lincoln.

Audrey was at the helm running the business with her daughter Gaynor and her grandchildren Debs and Shaun until she sadly died in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, March 24.

She died with her family by her side at her home within Sundown Adventureland’s grounds, where she has lived since she started the business.

Her daughter Gaynor, and grandchildren Debs and Shaun, are committed to continuing Audrey’s dream, along with her great grandchildren.

Sundown Adventureland founders Audrey and John Rhodes.

They said: “Sundown owes everything to this special lady who has been at its helm for 53 years. She has never retired and was as dedicated in her 90s as she was in her 40s. She worked relentlessly around the park until the end.

“Everything about Sundown is down to Audrey and her vision. She was devoted to creating fun for children, providing them with somewhere truly special to make wonderful memories with their families. We will ensure that her legacy continues.

“She will be very sadly missed by not only her devoted family but all of Sundown’s staff and our customers as well.

“She was always present on the park, chatting to everyone she met, and until recently, still enjoyed working in the gift shop. It was her passion, and her life and Sundown will always be dedicated to this very special lady.”

Audrey and John Rhodes with their children Gaynor and Mark in 1964, in the garden that would become Sundown Adventureland.

John sadly died in 2008 and Audrey said the park never quite felt the same without him. But right up until her illness, Audrey always insisted on being the first person on any of the new rides installed at Sundown.

Her pride and joy was always Sundown’s famous Night Before Christmas sleigh ride, which she installed in 2010 at a cost of £1 million.

Audrey dedicated her life to her passion and business Sundown Adventureland, where she spent 53 years at the helm.

When Audrey and John first launched Sundown Adventureland a few local children and families would come and visit.

A donkey came from the seaside town of Rhyl in Wales and there were goats, sheep, rabbits, Guinea pigs and even a pet monkey called Coco.

Sundown soon became home to donated animals and pets that people no longer wanted or couldn’t keep, with the business known locally as Sundown Pet’s Corner.

During the summer of 1968 and in its first year, Sundown had seen over 2,000 visitors and by 1972 60 coach loads of school children.

By 1984, it became a leading employer and as the years passed Audrey and John added rides and more play areas. Then in 1995, they decided to rehome their animals due to health and safety restrictions imposed on keeping exotic animals.

They later decided to introduce animated animals to sundown, which are still a very popular attraction on the park today.

Then last year Sundown Adventureland, which is planning to reopen on April 12, was voted the fourth best theme park in the UK and 16th best in Europe, according to TripAdvisor.

In an interview to celebrate Sundown Adventureland’s 50th anniversary in 2019, Audrey said: “My advice and my motivation has always been to just have the imagination and your dreams and it will happen.”

Police in Nottinghamshire have cracked down on coronavirus rule dodgers, including breaking up a hot tub party in Retford, as Lincolnshire’s neighbours top the national COVID-19 infection rate league table.

Nottinghamshire Police dispersed a number of gatherings at the weekend, including the party in Retford in the early hours of the Sunday morning.

They also broke up a birthday party in West Bridgford on Saturday night and a student party with over 20 people attending in Radford during the same evening.

In all three instances, people immediately dispersed when police arrived and no fines were issued.

Meanwhile, students who broke COVID-19 safety regulations to celebrate their negative coronavirus test results were given fines and could face further sanctions from local universities in the city.

Police issued a total of 10 fines at the weekend.

Seven students were issued with FPNs after officers were called out to sports of a house party in Lenton on Friday night. The group claimed they were entitled to have the party because they had received negative COVID-19 test results.

A further three fines were issued to three students who claimed to have had negative results and were confrontational when police attended a property on Ilkeston Road in Lenton on Saturday night.

This comes after Nottingham’s infection rate topped 750 cases per 100,000 people on Friday. Police said at the weekend that the city’s weekly rate of new virus cases continues to be the highest in England.

LNER will add contactless car parking at its train stations in Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster and Peterborough from October.

The system will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), with cameras on entry and exit, validating bookings made via the app or contactless payments at the station.

Commuters can book a parking space via the app or the LNER website, so there won’t be a need for a physical ticket or to use a manual payment machine.

The new system will be operation from October, with new signage and barriers to be installed in the meantime.

Drop off and short stay areas will also be controlled by ANPR, without any barriers, with payment options at the machine or via the app.

Season pass holders can also use the app to purchase a season pass.

Wakefield Westgate, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle stations will also have the new system installed.

Parking for now at these stations is £5 a day after 09.30am Monday-Friday or for those having a long weekend, park anytime Friday to Monday for £12.

Claire Ansley, Director of Customer Experience at LNER, said: “this new car parking system combined with our mobile ticket app will mean that customers can complete their entire journey without the need of a physical ticket or having to use a payment machine.

“We also believe this will help give customers greater confidence when they travel by removing the need to contact equipment often touched by many people.”

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