Martin Burnhill - Mr Sewerby Hall - is retiring after 46 years

Martin Burnhill at Sewerby Hall
Martin Burnhill at Sewerby Hall

After a career which saw him start as a trainee gardener and saw him become a senior manager at Sewerby Hall, Martin Burnhill is retiring at the end of this month.

Now the council’s senior facilities manager (coastal), Martin's role covers the whole East Riding coastline, from Flamborough to Withernsea.

Martin's role saw him working from Flamborough along the coast to Withernsea.

Martin's role saw him working from Flamborough along the coast to Withernsea.

He said: "I have had a fantastic career and seen many changes over the years. There have been challenges and highlights which have made for a very varied and rewarding journey. I have been fortunate in working with supportive colleagues who have helped me get the job done.

"I will miss the camaraderie of those colleagues but hope to keep in touch with them.

“I think my main asset has been my ability to talk to people and to make sense of things – and to make decisions.

“Sewerby Hall and Gardens will remain very much in my heart.”

He started at Sewerby Hall at 16 as a trainee gardener and became the Estate Supervisor, managing Danes Dyke, the South Landing estates, the zoo and the museums service, and saw the introduction of events, like a three-day horse pageant and the medieval jousting, still continues today.

Martin became area manager for the former East Yorkshire Borough Council, including allotments, parks and open spaces, and cemeteries.

After transferring to East Riding of Yorkshire Council in 1996, he was initially based at County Hall in Beverley, as parks and open space assistant manager, with special responsibility for Sewerby Hall and Gardens.

During his 46-year career, Martin has supported the launch of the Flamborough Heritage Coast project and led the transition of the Worklink Nursery from Wycliffe Lane Nursery in Bridlington to Sewerby Hall and Gardens in 1991. He was also involved in the redevelopment of the South Promenade before 1996.

He had a major role in the recent transformation of Sewerby Hall, funded partly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which reopened to the public in 2014, and also worked on promoting visitor tours at Flamborough Lighthouse and managing the historic Flamborough Chalk Tower and setting up a Friends’ Group.

He has achieved several tourism awards with the team at Sewerby Hall, including a REYTA award. He himself received an East Riding of Yorkshire Council Chairman’s Award for service to parks and open spaces, and the management of Sewerby Hall.

He supported the development of Park and Ride in Bridlington; the boat compound; the new beach chalets at South Cliff; and managed and supported beach-related events and activities, including a music festival and the popular Active Coast.

Martin was instrumental in introducing the RNLI Lifeguarding service to resort beaches in Bridlington (North and South) and Hornsea and Withernsea.

He also supported the creation of the Sewerby parkrun, and many other recent innovations at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, including the award-winning holiday cottages, the play area, and improved catering.

Martin was also on the working group for the new RNLI boathouse in Bridlington and has been a key player in the new office facilities in Bridlington for the foreshores team, set to open shortly.

He has also met royalty on several occasions, including a recent visit by Princess Anne. He also helped to found Yorkshire’s Great Houses, Castles and Gardens, a marketing consortium, initially with Harewood House, Castle Howard, Ripley Castle and Sewerby Hall and Gardens. The organisation now includes around 60 properties.

He spent 35 years as an auxiliary coastguard, initially the youngest on this coast, which has included carrying out rescues. Yorkshire in Bloom has also been hugely significant for Martin, with 35 years of judging and successes, including national Gold Awards.

Martin now plans to spend more time with his family, and to enjoy leisure pursuits, but will pursue his affinity with the coast. He aims to re-engage with projects like the new Coastal Trail and coastal tourism.

Martin lives in Bridlington with his wife of 35 years, Anita, who he met while they were both working for the Tourism, Parks and Recreation Department. Martin and Anita have two children, one grandson and a granddaughter on the way.