New manager at Pensthorpe reveals date for reopening

Martin Dupee, Bill and Deb Jordan at Pensthorpe, near Fakenham.

Martin Dupee has joined Pensthorpe, run by Bill and Deb Jordan, as general manager. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The man who has been at the helm of some of Norfolk's biggest tourist attractions has taken a new job enticing visitors back to Pensthorpe.

Martin Dupee, Pensthorpe, Norfolk

Martin Dupee at Pensthorpe. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Martin Dupee, who has been a director of Banham Zoo and head of operations at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, revealed Pensthorpe Natural Park will reopen on Wednesday, April 14, initially outdoors only.

Mr Dupee, who is currently chairman of Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions (NSTA) and a director of Visit East of England, started as general manager at the venue near Fakenham this week.

Deb and Bill Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe

Owners of Pensthorpe, Deb and Bill Jordan. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The 61-year-old, who lives near Norwich, had been working as a postman during Covid after he said he had been made redundant from his former job at ZESA, the Zoological Society of East Anglia, which runs Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!

Martin Dupee, Pensthorpe.

Martin Dupee at Pensthorpe. - Credit: Denise Bradley

He joins Pensthorpe, however, with experience of growing tourist attractions over nearly 20 years and at a crucial time after closure because of Covid.

His task now is to work his magic at the venue, run by husband and wife team Bill and Deb Jordan.

Already Pensthorpe is planning some new events such as small outdoor Shakespeare plays but Mr Dupee said it was too early for him to divulge other plans.

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"Nothing is easy in life but initially the focus is on getting Pensthorpe open again and getting people reconnecting with nature. We do want to grow the business. 

"But everything we do will fit with nature, and this will never be compromised."

He said there needed to be a careful balance between maximising Pensthorpe's potential and retaining its conservation values.

"Holding big open air events at Pensthorpe is not what we are here for, we will be holding different activities and events but without compromising the nature environment."

Martin Dupee, Pensthorpe, Norfolk

Martin Dupee at Pensthorpe - Credit: Denise Bradley

He also said there were no plans to increase ticket prices but he wanted to ensure Pensthorpe offered 'massive value' and a great day out.

Mr and Mrs Jordan said they were delighted Mr Dupee had joined the team at a key time for Pensthorpe "and the growing interest in wildlife and the need for space in the great outdoors. "Martin will bring with him a wealth of experience and knowledge, not only of successful family-based attractions but also first hand knowledge of the Norfolk tourism market.” 

Martin Dupee

Mr Dupee started his career as a restaurant manager for the Little Chef chain, working with them for 12 years before moving into retail as a regional manager for Vision Express.

After a brief stint as a manager for travel firm Going Places, he worked for Banham Zoo for eight years going from commercial manager to operations director.

He worked for the Norfolk Dinosaur Park, now Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, for eight years as head of operations and then as a consultant before being director of operations for ZESA for more than seven years.

He is also a retired Justice of the Peace and a senior watchkeeper for the National Coastguard Institution.

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