The farthest flight British snowbirds roost in Destin

Savannah Chastin
On Feb. 18, the Destin Snowbirds Club recognized Pam and David Hawes, of Cambridge, England, as the snowbirds who traveled the farthest to get to Destin.

"Would you like a cup o' tea?" offered Pam Hawes, as she welcomed guests into her condo. British manners and a soft Victorian accent confirmed the validity of origin for Destin's overseas snowbirds.

Pam and David Hawes of Cambridge, England, first began visiting Destin 17 years ago, drawn to the Emerald Coast to visit their daughter, military son-in-law and family.

Although familiar with the area, this is the first year the couple has participated in the Destin Snowbird Club.

"When we first came there wasn't very much here," David reminisced of his first few years in Destin."A lot has changed in 17 years."

Pam explained that several years ago she noticed signs around Destin with "Snowbird Discounts" and "Welcome Snowbirds" posted in local businesses and wondered what they meant.

She said that she and her husband were stumped by the signs until a chance meeting with Canadian snowbirds just last year.

"They invited us to the Banjo-rama dance," Pam explained, describing a themed parasol dance held annually by the Snowbird organization.

"They said, 'Come on Pam use this umbrella and have a little waltz around.' "

Pam said that they enjoyed the event so much, that this year they decided to join the Snowbirds Club to see what else they had to offer.

"You can buy tickets for anything you fancy," she said.

She listed numerous activities sponsored by the organization and declared that if she participated in every event, she would be busy from sun-up to sun-down.

"Being snowbirds you don't have time for all this stuff do you?" she laughed.

The Hawes, retired arable farmers, enjoy the slow, relaxed life-style of Destin.

"Everyone seems much more laid back," Pam said, "and people speak to you. People say 'hi' even on the beach; you don't get that at home."

Pam said that she and her husband enjoy dining in local restaurants, and walking the beach together, but they also have personal pastimes to take advantage of in Destin.

"My favorite shop is Chicos, I love shopping you see!" Pam said.

David laughed and commented that every year they bring an extra suitcase for new clothes, and still leave things behind when they return home. As for his hobby, David loves to play golf.

Not much about Destin reminds the couple of home, although Pam did explain that she gets her British products of Wheat-a-bix and jam from Fresh Market.

"It's been colder here than back home," Pam said of this year’s cold-snap. "We had to buy a coat and thick shirts."

She said that in England the winters are damp and foggy, and given the weather in Destin recently, she was strongly reminded of home.

"I thought, 'Are we really in Florida?' " Pam said, "But now actually we are!"

The Hawes, reaching their 50th wedding anniversary in April, said their ten-week stay in Destin is just flying by.

"This is definitely the best beach in the world, well, we think so," Pam said smiling at her husband. "I just love that beach, it squeaks when you walk on it. It's just wonderful."

The Hawes are by far the farthest snowbirds as they traveled 4,452 miles, flew over five countries, and spent 22 hours to roost here in Destin.

"It's worth it 'cause I'm coming back!" Pam confirmed.

The couple plan to continue the winter tradition for years to come, and hope to convince other Brits to make the journey with them.

"We love Destin, I'd recommend it to anybody," said Pam.