26 Dedicated Years: Q&A with Thelma Aldridge on Life at Stapleford Park
Answers have been edited for clarity
How did you come to work at Stapleford Park?
At that time, I was in my early fifties, and I had been working for 32 years as a shoe machinist; and it wasn't a great job, but I stuck to it until they had to downsize. When this happened, my sister-in-law, who was Deputy Housekeeper at that time, asked me if I wanted to have a go at working here. I said yes, and here I am, 26 years later.
In your 26 years of working here, what are your best memories of the place?
When I started, it was 2 years after Bob Peyton had bought the place and converted it into a hotel. He and his wife, Wendy, were wonderful and nice people, although I remember Mr Peyton as pretty strict. After that, there were a lot of good times as Peter de Savary took over, followed by Andrew Parker, and then on to the current owners. The best memories were of these wonderful people, as well as meeting the many, many celebrities and film stars who came have stayed here, such as Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and most memorably, Tom Jones!
What do most of your guests in the rooms say about the place?
Since this place used to be a country house, we used to have a country feel to it, and had horse blankets on the beds! However, since then this has changed and now we have duvets and pillows so comfortable that people who come here know that they’re going to get a good night’s sleep, especially with it being so quiet at night.
You mentioned it’s really quiet at night. Does this mean that you’ve seen some strange things - have you seen any ghosts at Stapleford Park?
Well, in the many years I’ve been here, I’ve not seen any ghosts in Stapleford Park unfortunately!
Has your family been to Stapleford Park?
I have a son, 2 grandchildren, and from that 5 great-grandaughters! They've come to stay here, and walk the grounds from time to time, and they too, love the place. In fact, my grandson used to work here as well for a stint as a porter. Our favorite place is the rose garden and the cottages. The best time for us is afternoon teas in the summer, as it is most beautiful for me then!
What do you love the most about your work life at Stapleford Park?
Stepping into the estate grounds to get to work is such a wonderous feeling, meeting the other team members, who are also wonderful, and my favorite time of the day at work is the fabulous cup of coffee during lunch and dinner!
What will you miss the most after retiring?
I will miss the grounds, and coming here - I think the car my husband uses to send me to work can actually drive itself here, it knows it so well! But, most especially, I will miss the people who I work with here.
What are you going to do now that you're retiring?
Well, I've been meaning to visit my grand daughter who currently lives in Scotland, and then take a trip to Malta. My husband and I have been heading down there every year and we are looking forward to the trip this year.
Anything you want to say?
Interested to see what it's like to live life at Stapleford Park? Talk to us and ask us about memberships, or just stay the night.