This Mother’s Day will be a special one for June Sellers and her daughter Liz, as it marks a year since the two launched their first business together, a holiday cottage on the family farm.
The ‘Foreman’s House’ is at Low Caythorpe near Rudston, on the farm where June has lived with husband Mike since 1984. Standing empty at the end of their drive, since the last foreman’s family moved out more than 45 years ago, the building was slowly deteriorating.
“The house will have fond memories for many local children, as we used it when we held the Middleton East pony club summer camps here,” June said. “The children would bring their own beds and camp in the foreman’s house overnight, as it had running water and a toilet.”
Since the camps moved to a different venue the house hadn’t been used at all, and in 2011, June and her husband Mike realised that something needed to be done - it either needed to be pulled down or done up. Renovation won, and work started in October 2011, with the project taking two and a half years to complete, including a new roof re-plastering, new internal walls and level floors.
During the building work June’s eldest daughter Liz and her partner Jeremy had a baby daughter, so when it came to the refurbishment Liz was on-hand to help. Liz, as a geography teacher, was keen to incorporate sustainable and renewable technology, including a ground source heat-pump and solar panels.
She said: “The house is very well insulated and has under-floor heating but, after some discussion, we decided to install a log burner as well. The house is warm enough but when thinking about what people want on holiday, in a country house, the idea of sitting by a log fire was crucial.
“We were determined to create a five star holiday experience. My mum and I have travelled all over the world and stayed in a range of accommodation and while we didn’t have any experience of running a holiday home, we had experiences of good and bad holidays and knew what we were aiming for.”
June and Liz say they haven’t fallen out through the process.
“Neither of us had any experience of running a business like this before and I think that was a good thing,” Liz said. “It meant we could ask each other’s opinions and help one another without one of us ‘being in charge’.”
During the refurbishment Liz’s maternity leave came to an end and she decided to give up work and manage the cottage, welcoming the first guests in March 2014.
Liz said: “I love it, it’s such a happy job, as people are coming here on holiday or to celebrate and I love showing them the house and telling them about this area.”
June added: “Liz managing the house has meant she gets more time at home with Chloe and I get to see more of Chloe, as I look after her while Liz is busy in the house.”
Every detail of the property and the holiday experience has been considered, from places for people to store muddy boots to flowers and chocolates in the rooms.
The teacher in both of them is still evident with the hand-annotated maps of the local area and information packs bursting with advice and leaflets.
Despite sitting in the heart of Hockney Country with picturesque views of the countryside, the foreman’s house is only three miles from the seaside at Bridlington, giving visitors the perfect chance to explore the East Riding coastline.
While many families would find working together difficult, June and Liz say the experience has helped them appreciate each other more.
“I think working together has brought us closer, it’s helped us to appreciate each other’s strengths and opinions and has been very rewarding,” Liz said. “If either of us had undertaken this on our own, we would have ended up with a different property, but working together has brought out the best in each of us and produced a property that we’re both so proud of.”