A CAMPSITE in Salisbury that was supposed to be a horticultural business has won a new accolade for its excellent standards and facilities.

Brian and Margaret Hayter, owners of Coombe Caravan Park, are celebrating the great result.

Mrs Hayter said: “We had no idea it was going to happen but we were over the moon after all the hard work we’ve put in.”

The couple started the campsite from scratch after buying the land near Salisbury Racecourse in 1978. They wanted to start a horticultural business but when the council planned to compulsory purchase the land for a Gypsy site, the couple applied for planning permission for a caravan site to keep their land.

They carried out most of the work themselves and did all the planting of trees, flowers and hedges. They officially opened in 1981 and have been running the campsite for more than 30 years.

The site has always been highly rated by the AA but this year is the first time the organisation has introduced the Gold Pennant to showcase the best camping parks.

Campsites awarded the gold pennant will have a quality score of at least 90 per cent and it recognises the hard work that goes into maintaining sites and a continued commitment to developing and improving sites.

The inspector who visited the site said the park was “looking excellent throughout” and commented on the changes they had made in the last year such as redecorating the main building and erecting a marquee with picnic benches for the main season.

He said it was “an excellent example of a top four-pennant park”.

Thousands of tourists from 40 different countries use the site throughout the year and the couple get a lot of repeat business from happy campers who have enjoyed their stay.

Mrs Hayter, 80, said: “We’re in a lot of guides in Europe, just through word of mouth and people putting us in – we haven’t applied to go in them.”

Mr Hayter, 76, also used to have a joinery business in the city – BGH Hayter Joinery – but eventually had to give it up as the campsite is demanding and requires long hours.

The couple’s son Richard also helps run the site.