THE owners of an historic hotel will signal a new era with a family fun day in aid of a children’s hospice.

Chilton-based engineering firm Derek Parnaby Cyclones International Ltd bought Whitworth Hall Hotel last December - two months after the Best Western venue went into administration.

The sale meant all jobs - about 40 - were saved and existing bookings including weddings were honoured.

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Now the family outfit is overseeing refurbishment of the 29-room hotel, on the edge of Spennymoor, which Derek Parnaby, father of the firm’s current owner, Adrian, owned between 1980 and 1997.

One of the first moves they made was to scrap an admission charge to the hotel’s surrounding country park so the public can enjoy the setting and see the resident deer up-close for free.

Now it hopes to encourage guests and the public to visit the grounds with the family fun day on Saturday, August 23, between10.30am and 4pm.

All profits from the event will be donated to Grace House North East, which is hoped will open later this year to provide hospice facilities to children and young people with life shortening diseases.

Entry will be £1 per person and include, a variety of stalls, activities such as ice skating, magic shows, music, dancing, archery, a bouncy castle, bungee run and a pets corner.

Author of the Horrible Histories children’s book series, Terry Deary, a patron of Grace House North East, will hold a meet and greet book signing session.

There will be marquees to move entertainment under cover if the weather is poor and a park or walk and ride service operating from Whitworth Park School.

Sales and events manager Sophie Cook hopes to raise thousands of pounds for the charity.

She said: “The hospice is amazing, we looked at lots of great causes but this one really stood out.

“Even though it is in Sunderland it will serve all children from across the region and every single aspect has been well thought out, it will be such a special, caring, dignified place and we want to help it get open soon.

“The Parnaby family are doing everything they can with the hotel but they also really want people to enjoy the grounds, this event will show people what is here but also really help Grace House.”