On Sunday 11 December 2016 the Green Park Hotel was remembered and celebrated with a film and afternoon tea in the Murray Muscat Centre. 130 people watched a private screening of the film ‘The Green Park’, directed by Justin Hardy, written by Jack Fishburn. The film’s producer Marsha Lee is a member of the extended Marriott/ Richman family who owned and ran the Hotel from November 1943 until its closure in October 1986.
During this era Bournemouth was acclaimed as the South Coast’s premier holiday destination, and the Green Park stood out as a leading Kosher hotel, which offered a luxurious fully inclusive family holiday experience in a modern hotel offering service and comfort, good and plentiful food with a silver service dining room, together with entertainment which included many of the ‘A list’ performers and celebrities of the day including Ray Ellington, Eddy Calvert, Lionel Blair, Tommy Trinder, Ted Rogers and Larry Adler, to name but a few. The Hotel, which was located on Bournemouth’s East Cliff, boasted state of the art facilities including a large garden and sun terrace, with tennis courts, a children’s playground and a swimming pool; there were also regular golf tournaments and card evenings. The Hotel offered a personal service, meeting and greeting its guests by name, many of whom returned year on year (always staying in the same room). The owners were also innovative employers who took a personal interest in their staff, investing in staff training and welfare; they were particularly proud of the Italian waiters who received their training at the Hotel.
The film was very well received by the guests, with a standing ovation at the end. Not only does it give a nostalgic flavour of a Hotel of its era, but it is also a very successful social documentary of 20th century British Jewry.
The audience brought together people to share their memories of the Hotel. The event was attended by some of the stars of the film – one of the owners of the hotel, Miss Judy Richman (now 92 years old), staff members Betty Traves, Mimmo Zacchia and Nino Benedetto. Also present were many local people who had held celebrations at the Hotel, including Maurice and Helen Kaye (now 104 and 103 years old respectively) who held their Silver Wedding celebrations at the Green Park Hotel in August 1959, and who more recently celebrated their 82nd wedding anniversary in a quieter way.
Rochelle Selby paid tribute to her late mother Hilda Marks; not only are the Marks and Richman families great friends, but Hilda was also a longstanding patron of Emunah, a worldwide charity which helps disadvantaged children and their families in Israel, providing therapies and counselling appropriate to the needs of each individual, and helping them integrate back into society. This event raised £2,000 for Emunah; proceeds will go towards the Hilda and Sam Marks Counselling Centre in Naharia, Israel. A presentation was also made to Judy Richman in memory of her late sister Ray Richman, with a donation going towards a grant for one of the students of an Emunah home to train in the hospitality industry – a fitting end to a nostalgic afternoon of reminiscing and celebrating the Green Park Hotel.
Text by Anne Ozdamar, photos by M. Ozdamar