TV surprise teacher thanks Willerby for gift that will make family memories for years to come

01 March 2021

An inspirational teacher has sent a “massive thank you” to Willerby for the holiday home retirement gift that will enable her to continue to make family memories at the beauty spot she has visited for more than 50 years.

The amazing gift was revealed to a live TV audience of over seven million on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Much-loved Deputy Headteacher Kath Crawley was stunned when she realised she was at the centre of a surprise tribute to her decades of dedication to teaching and her local community on the hit TV show.

Mrs Crawley plans to retire in July, after 38 years as a teacher – the past 32 at St Thomas’ CE Primary School in Wigan.

Her immediate family and headteacher helped Saturday Night Takeaway’s producers stage months of undercover filming of gestures of appreciation from former pupils, leading up to the live TV surprise when the hit ITV show returned to screens on February 20th.

Willerby, the UK’s holiday home market leader, donated a stunning, brand new, two-bedroom Willerby Brookwood caravan to Mrs Crawley as the perfect retirement gift.

It will be sited at Avon Wood Holiday Home Park in Newby Bridge on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, a special place which the kind-hearted teacher and her family have classed as their second home for more than five decades.

Mrs Crawley said: “Fifty two years ago, my Granny Maud took me, my sister and two cousins on the bus from Wigan to Avon Wood and she ended up buying a caravan there.

“Granny Maud is no longer with us, but we’ve been going ever since and, while we’ve upgraded a few times, it has never been a brand new caravan. Our current caravan is more than 20 years old and I was toying with the idea of changing it when I retire, but I definitely didn’t expect this.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Willerby. It means so much to me and my family and it’s so nice to know our future generations can keep visiting this lovely place as our family grows.

“They can carry on what Granny Maud started, for many more years to come. That’s so special to me and I can’t wait for us to make more memories together.”

Mrs Crawley, 59, who lives near Wigan, said her new holiday home will be enjoyed by the whole family, including her partner Paul, children Matthew, Becky and Sophie, their partners and grandchildren, as well as Mrs Crawley’s sister, Sue, and her family.

After her retirement, Mrs Crawley plans to stay at the holiday home at least one week out of three, making the most of her special gift and enjoying the further company of her cousins who own the caravan adjacent to hers on the site.

The Brookwood holiday home features a comfortable open-plan lounge, spacious kitchen and stylish breakfast bar, and Willerby will cover the cost of transporting it to the holiday park and installation on site, taking the total value of the surprise gift to £47,000.

Mrs Crawley said: “I had a look at the holiday home online and I’m in total disbelief. It has a dishwasher and fridge freezer and it’s ultra-modern, bright and spacious. It will be absolutely perfect for us for at least another 15 to 20 years.”

Accompanied by her daughter, Becky, Mrs Crawley was led to believe she was at the TV studios for an ITV News interview about her career as a teacher, before the real reason was revealed.

Mrs Crawley’s current pupils played their own special part in the televised surprise, appearing by video link to suggest retirement gifts for their favourite teacher.

She added: “I’m astounded and amazed by it all and I’m still buzzing. When I walked through the studio door, I did a double take and tried to walk by Ant and Dec because I thought they were there doing a soundcheck.

“I only realised I was on live television when Ant said something to me and told me to sit down. It was so surreal.

“I’ve had such lovely, beautiful and heartfelt comments from friends, family, colleagues and current and former pupils. The children have been so excited.

“I taught many of their parents and some of their grandparents and they’ve even found a way to contact me. I’m so touched and so grateful to them all because, without them, none of this would have been possible.

“They have all made such a big contribution to my life as a teacher. It’s because of them that I’ve stayed at St Thomas’ for so many years and I’m even more passionate about the job now than when I started.”

Willerby worked with local dealership Kendal Caravans and Avon Wood Holiday Home Park to provide Mrs Crawley with her fabulous new home from home.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Willerby. It means so much to me and my family and it’s so nice to know our future generations can keep visiting this lovely place as our family grows. Mrs Crawley