"I didn't know the difference between a chorus line and a bottom line"
New Forest District Council's Leader - Cllr Barry Rickman, Chairman - Cllr Alison Hoare, Chief Executive - Bob Jackson, and Employment and Tourism Manager - Anthony Climpson, were among guests at an event on Saturday evening (16 January) to celebrate Avril Owton's 40 years at the Cloud Hotel, Brockenhurst.
Cllr Barry Rickman first met Avril when he was, at the age of 16, operating the spotlight at Bournemouth Maison Royale and Avril was a dancer, "Avril - a former Tiller girl, MBE, founder of Wessex Women's Network, and Hampshire businesswoman of the Year in 1995 - has triumphed to become a hugely successful and influential New Forest business".
In 1991 Avril's husband died suddenly of a heart attack. There was no life insurance and the hotel could not be sold as it was a recession. But then Avril read a magazine article which said 'you are the steering wheel of your life' and decided she would have a go at running the hotel, even though she says herself she "...didn't know the difference between a chorus line and a bottom line".
Cllr Alison Hoare said at the event, "Avril is the most inspiring woman I have ever met. She is a woman who when the worst thing possible happened, rolled up her sleeves and turned the Cloud into the wonderful, award winning hotel it is today. She has raised incredible amounts of money for MacMillan Cancer charity and even found the time to write a book in 2007, 'Delighting Your Customers'. Avril epitomises the values of the New Forest and the special unique qualities of the people who live here, success through hard work, but finding the time and commitment to help and inspire others."
Anthony Climpson has known Avril for thirty of her forty years at the hotel and describes her as, "the inspirational hotel proprietor who is one of the New Forest's greatest advocates."
Photo: - L-R: Cllr Barry Rickman, Anthony Climpson, Avril Owton, Cllr Alison Hoare, Bob Jackson