Fifty years of success for North travel agent; Humble start for firm which has had six million customers.
ONE of North East's first travel agents is set to celebrate a milestone birthday. Holiday firm Dawson & Sanderson is turning 50 this year and is planning a party in Newcastle's Eldon Square next week to mark the occasion.
The company started life in Ashington, Northumberland, back in 1962.
The Dawson family had an off-licence there, supplied by a wine and spirits business owned by the Sanderson family in nearby Morpeth. Colonel Sanderson and his family were well known in Morpeth, where his father was an alderman and they owned Sanderson Arcade.
Thomas Dawson, who left the Coal Board in the late 1950s to join the family business, wanted to book a holiday, but there were no travel agents in Ashington at the time.
So he asked Col Sanderson if he wanted to invest in a new venture. He agreed and became a sleeping partner, before being bought out a few years later.
Dawson& Sanderson opened initially on Station Road as an estate agent and travel agent.
The travel industry was in its infancy at the time and there were doubts over whether the new venture would succeed.
More than six million passengers later, the firm has a further 20 branches around the country and is one of the biggest independent travel agents in the United Kingdom.
To celebrate its birthday, the company will be holding a three-day holiday festival at Eldon Square shopping centre.
The Holiday Event will bring together more than 14 holiday operators, giving customers the chance to take advantage of some exclusive offers and prime promotions.
Foreign food samplings, holiday fashion and beauty, interactive family fun - including a surf simulator - and competitions will also be on offer. Dawson& Sanderson managing director Chris Pattison said: "We're thrilled to be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year.
"What better way to enjoy this than by having a fun three-day festival in the heart of the city, where our customers can join with us and also enjoy the benefits of chatting to our suppliers and looking at the variety of holidays on offer?" The event runs from Thursday until Saturday.
BIRTHDAY Entertainers get ready for Dawson & Sanderson's 50th Anniversary Holiday Event HOW CAN I HELP, MADAM? Thomas Dawson, founder of Dawson and Sanderson, with Dorothy Bennett in 1962