Where work is maximum fun
WITH an annual footfall of more than 420,000 visitors and a turnover of nearly six million pounds, managing Crealy is no easy task.
Fortunately, the family business is in good hands because Josh has worked in the entertainment and leisure industry for 22 years.
Starting off as a Butlin's Redcoat at the age of 16 when he left home, Josh went on to work at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He said: "We used to holiday in Butlin's when I was a child and seeing all of the entertainment gave me a burning ambition. The first time I did it for a year and I was responsible for day time activities, dancing with the guests and performing in shows. It was definitely the redcoat heyday."
Since then, he's worked at various theme and amusement parks including Flamingo Land in north Yorkshire. "I broke the mould. My dad was a pub landlord and my mum worked in supermarkets and nursing homes. They were typically working class – no showbiz or razzle dazzle. I don't know where it came from. I suppose I've always had a love of music, radio and the spotlight but I'm not a luvvie."
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During his career, Josh has worked for Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCC) and was head of music for Disney Cruises. "I've been to so many different places – Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Virgin islands – places that you wouldn't necessarily think about travelling to. I worked on seven-star cruise liners with companies like Silver Sea and RCC. I was head of cruise entertainment so I worked with celebrities like Diana Ross and Tina Turner."
He continued: "Impressing the regular cruise ship passengers was difficult. They had paid £10,000 plus to come on board and it was difficult to keep them happy."
He added: "Combating boredom was also difficult – ship life is different to any other thing. You're in a small community, thrown together. You have to learn to get on very quickly. You have to learn to be forgiving and tolerant of other people."
Life at sea opened up a world of opportunity for Josh who found himself mixing hits at a royal party.
"I was a disc jockey for the Sultan of Brunei on one of his yachts in Monte Carlo. There were celebrities, world leaders and politicians on board."
Tired of life at sea, Josh left to work for Haven Holidays looking after caravan and holiday parks. After a brief hiatus doing radio broadcasts for the BBC, Josh came back into the leisure industry and took up a job as complex manager for Bourne Leisure in 2006 before moving into his current position at Crealy.
Purchased from Cambridge University in 1982, the site was first opened by Roy and Marion Down as an animal petting and playground centre. Over the years, and with the help of their children Angela and Chris, it grew to a 100-acre park with more than 60 attractions. In 2011 Crealy was granted a zoo licence and has brought monkeys, alpacas and meerkats to the park.
This year £1.4m is being invested in Crealy Meadows, a caravan and camping park with 138 pitches and themed safari or medieval tents for hire.
Josh is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the park – everything from admissions, the gift shop, rides, animals and catering.
He said: "It's quite a big operation. I head up a team of 12 heads of department who are responsible for a team of 200 seasonal workers."
Co-ordinating all the departments and making sure the park runs smoothly is a big ask.
It's Josh's job to make sure they have enough stock, queue times are kept to a minimum and ultimately that visitors enjoy the park.
Crealy recently installed a show dome which houses 650 people and is their latest indoor attraction.
Come September, Crealy closes for the winter and staff plan for the next season.
"It's strange being here with no music or rides running," he said.
"We start to plan for the following year and we carryout maintenance work. After Christmas we start the build up and get ready for half term, then it's Easter and then it's the summer again."
Josh says the key to Crealy's success has been its family-orientated nature.
"Crealy has always stayed true to itself," he said.
"It has never tried to be all singing, all dancing. It's very family-orientated and the animals play a big part in what we do."
Being a family man is also something which has become increasingly important to Josh since meeting his wife Katie when she came to audition as a dancer.
The couple live at Burnham-on-Sea with their two children Toby, six, and Daisy, three and a half, where Josh's action-packed lifestyle even extends to his family.
He recalled: "In the winter of 2008 we were knee deep in snow at our house and Katie had gone into labour during the night. We woke up and she said, 'I think it's time to go in.' So I went to have a quick shower and when I got out she was pushing on the bed and I thought, 'we're never going to make it to the hospital.'
"I called the ambulance and they took me through the delivery. It was nerve wracking – I've never had so much adrenaline pump through my body. It was a completely unforgettable time really. The paramedics arrived about five minutes after Daisy was born."
He added: "I've had some great times, met so many great people and made some great friends. I'm glad I did it when I was young and I don't have any regrets now, but it's definitely a single man's life."