March 11 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 18, 2014
When a last-minute order came in to a Norfolk business, it was keen to rise to the challenge.
But it was only after an exchange of emails The English Shepherds Hut Company realised it was producing a bespoke garden retreat for none other than model and actress Elizabeth Hurley.
The company, based in Rackheath, was asked at the start of December if it could make and deliver one of its wooden flagship “hideaway” huts in time for Christmas as a present for Hurley’s 11-year-old son, Damien.
Founder Craig Nield, who prides himself on the company’s customer service, made sure the hut was completed on time and personally delivered it to Donnington Hall, the Herefordshire mansion Hurley bought in 2012 with fiancé Shane Warne.
“We drove hundreds of miles to deliver it in time for Christmas,” said Mr Nield.
“We delivered it to the courtyard of her gorgeous stately home and then we hid in the shadows. Elizabeth then walked out into the courtyard with her son, covering his eyes and said: “Here you go, darling, happy Christmas”.
Mr Nield said Damien was so pleased he was almost jumping for joy.
“He turned to her and said ‘Oh Mummy, it’s amazing!’,” said Mr Nield.
“We then jumped out of the shadows, a bit DIY SOS-style, and Elizabeth came up to me, held my arm and said ‘It’s absolutely divine’.”
The English Shepherds Hut Company designs and builds bespoke shepherds’ huts for sale and holiday rental, with the hideaway huts starting from £11,900.
All huts are tailor-made to include features requested by the customer.
“With this order, they asked for a double bed and, because it was for an 11-year-old, we put in a cast iron Calor gas burner rather than a wood burner, which they didn’t think was suitable,” said Mr Nield.
“They also asked for a pop-up desk for writing and a dresser with shelves.”
Mr Nield hopes Damien uses the hut as an entertaining space for friends.
“Elizabeth is godmother to the Beckhams’ children, so maybe they will be coming to stay in it,” he said.
“We are hoping for a call soon from the Beckhams saying they would like to order four of our huts!”
This year is already looking busy for the company, which has 10 orders to complete by Easter and is responding to inquiries from Wales and Scandanavia.
There is also the hope that having Ms Hurley as a customer might boost the profile of the business.
But would the company offer such good service to anyone who wasn’t a household name?
“Yes, definitely,” said Mr Nield. “We are very keen to promote our brand as the best shepherds hut company in the world and we will pull out all the stops for any of our customers.
“We had to deliver to a place near Wells which wasn’t very accessible, so we approached local company Mrs Temple’s Cheeses and asked if we could borrow their telescopic forklift to transport the hut 200 metres across ploughed fields.”
To find out more about the company, visit www.englishshepherdshut.co.uk or call 01603 397777.
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