GTO Richard Preston, The Valentine Club, tells us about a string of sell-out group holidays following a chance meeting at the Group Leisure & Travel Show in Milton Keynes. 

Members of GTO Richard Preston's group waiting to board a pleasure boat on the Norfolk Broads

Members of The Valentine Club waiting to board a pleasure boat on the Norfolk Broads during their holiday to Suffolk.

My wife and I visited the 2021 Group Leisure & Travel Show in Milton Keynes, hoping to get some more useful information enabling me to arrange day trips for my group.

On passing the InterChoice Holidays stand and being tempted in by either an ice cream or a very large cookie, we were greeted by Janine and Jenny who could best be described as really nice, informative travel advisors who told us that they do not arrange day trips.

Members of Richard Preston's group waiting to board a train during a holiday on the Isle of Wight

Waiting to board a train at Havenstreet during a holiday on the Isle of Wight.

At that point we nearly moved onto another stand as the club had never considered a holiday before but we were invited to consider the possibility as they arranged pretty much everything other than gathering up names and of course, the money.

Armed with a brochure we went home to study the array of catalogues we had gathered during the day at the GLT Show and the InterChoice one kept catching our eye. A deal was being offered for a five-day holiday to Warners Norton Grange in April 2022 so I asked my members at our next meeting what they thought abut the idea of taking a holiday together.

GTO Richard Preston's group bowling at Warner Hotels' Norton Grange on the Isle of Wight

Enjoying a spot of bowling during their stay at Warners’ Norton Grange, Isle of Wight.

My expectations were not high and I thought around eight to ten people might put their hand up. Could I be more wrong? By the April, we had around 40 members travelling on a coach to the Isle of Wight to enjoy what was a wonderful time away with friends. We went to many attractions including the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. 

We have since arranged another four holidays with InterChoice and we have filled a coach each time with no real problem. Maybe my life working as a market gardener and greengrocer were wasted. Perhaps I should have been a travel agent? Who knows but those holidays give my members so much pleasure as otherwise, many of them would simply be staying at home.

What these holidays have done is bring so many of our club members that much closer to each other. We’re always looking out for one another. 

About Richard and his group

The Valentine Club in Oxfordshire has been going for 60 years - and all began when a group of people decided to meet for a cuppa and a chat. Richard Preston has been organising visits for the club for more than 15 years now. 

GTO Richard Preston, The Valentine Club

Read our previous interview with him to find out more about the most popular trips with his members, how he comes up with ideas and more. 

Richard is also one of the 2023 Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award® finalists. Find out who the others are here

After our first holiday to the Isle of Wight during April 2022, we went to Warner Leisure Hotels’ Corton in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in September 2022, where yet again a great time was had by all. The highlights included a day on the Broads including a river boat cruise taking in the sights and scenery. 

We then returned to the Isle of Wight in May 2023 when we enjoyed more trips around the island including adopting a donkey at the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. One of other stand-outs was Osborne House which did not disappoint. 

We’re going on holiday to Llandudno in Wales in September, staying at The Marine Hotel. Then in April 2024 we are back at Norton Grange on the Isle of Wight for another stay, probably taking around 40 members as we have done for the last few holidays. 

The Group Leisure & Travel Show is so helpful to me as a GTO, basically because you have all of the exhibitors in one place showing what you can do.

Come along to the 2023 GLT Show

InterChoice Holidays are one of the many exhibitors looking forward to meeting even more GTOs at this year’s Group Leisure & Travel Show on Thursday 5th October at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes. 

Register to visit at: