Childhood dream comes true for Sidmouth’s new ‘deckchair lady’ Gina

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 July 2018

Gina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchair

Gina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchair

Archant

Gina Rodgers remembers sitting on the pebbles as a girl and looking up at the brightly coloured deckchairs on The Esplanade at Sidmouth.

Soaking up the sun on the esplanade in SidmouthSoaking up the sun on the esplanade in Sidmouth

She told herself that one day she would be sitting in a deckchair. And her dream job was to be the person who issued the tickets and collected the money.

Sometimes in life, dreams can come true.

Gina, who lives near Tipton St John and who is one of 11 children, has lived in the area all her life. And, this year has taken on the concession for the deckchairs at Sidmouth from East Devon District Council.

She said: “I’ve always been a beach person. I always thought it looked a nice job to do.”

Deckchairs on the esplanadeDeckchairs on the esplanade

Gina said she’d even got some help from the man she remembered as the ‘deckchair man’ – Tom Griffiths, who also ran the beach huts until they were removed.

She added: “He’s still around and he’s given me a lot of advice – like to patrol regularly and make sure they pay up. I haven’t had any ‘runners’ but I have had a number of people who say they didn’t realise that you had to pay and a couple of foreign students who look blankly at you.

“But the vast majority pay and they’re lovely people.”

The mother-of-three has done a variety of jobs, including being a psychiatric nurse and working in a greengrocers. She also has an art degree but says she has little time for sketching.

Gina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchairGina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchair

Gina said: “I knew it was going to be hard work.

“There’s a lot of deckchairs to put out but it’s been great so far. I’m really enjoying it.”

Gina said she also rowed with Sidmouth Gig Club and travelling around had made her realise that the traditional deckchair was now something of a rarity.

She added: “Loads of people have come up to me and said it’s really good to see the deckchairs out – it’s really good you’ve taken it on.”

Gina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchairGina Rodgers surveys the beach from the comfort of a traditional deckchair

Gina said she was however cautious about the town’s future.

“Sidmouth is unique, it’s fantastic, but if we don’t look out it could decline – the lack of support for independent shops, the parking is atrocious and a lot of people who come to work in Sidmouth can’t afford to park for the day.”

Gina puts the chairs out from about 9am and folds them away between 5.30pm and 6pm.

“Obviously, it’s totally weather dependent and if it’s grey you’re not going to make that much money. I’m never going to be a millionaire. But it’s a nice job.”

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