Voting opens from 8am Tuesday 7 February to decide the winner of VisitEngland's Tourism Superstar 2017.
The competition, run by VisitEngland and supported by The Daily Mirror, features 10 shortlisted candidates who need your votes to win and be crowned Tourism Superstar 2017. Visit mirror.co.uk/tourismsuperstar to watch a short film featuring the Superstar finalists and have your say on who takes the title by casting your vote online from 8am Tuesday 7 February.
The voting will open on Tuesday 7 February and the winning Tourism Superstar will be announced during English Tourism Week 2017 (25 March - 2 April).
VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said:
“The sheer calibre of this years’ entrants is testament to the outstanding customer service that is the foundation of England’s tourism industry. I really encourage you to join in and vote as we celebrate our Tourism Superstars who consistently go above and beyond customers’ expectations, and who contribute so much to ensure visitors have a great time.”
VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar initiative is in its sixth year and recognises the heroes within the industry who far exceed the call of duty to ensure visitors have the most amazing experience.
Kevin Robson, Tour Guide and Owner of Wild Dog Outdoors is the Northumberland nomination.
Kevin set up Wild Dog Outdoors in 2013 and is primarily a tour guide of Hadrian’s Wall, providing insightful and passionate tours on the Wall’s Roman and ancient history. He delights in regaling visitors with tales of Northumberland’s place in Britain’s history and exploring the iconic sites within the county. Anyone who goes on a tour with Kevin is treated to secret stories and anecdotes, usually the reserve of archaeologists and historians, which bring the locations to life. Most of all Kevin loves to enchant all those around him, using his skills to bring the magic of Northumberland to life.
Other shortlisted candidates are:
Gemma Garwood, Falmouth Town Crier, Cornwall
Gemma, 32, is currently the youngest Town Crier in the UK. She has been in the role since March 2016 and quite literally shouts Falmouth’s praises whilst walking round the town making people smile. Gemma is very active in the local community and eagerly spreads the message of Falmouth as a premier tourism destination far and wide. She is a trained performer and took on the role with the aim of breathing new life into an old tradition. Gemma does more than just shout about her town, she helps improve it, for example she coordinated spring cleaning efforts with local businesses in March 2015 and will be getting stuck in again this year. Most recently she was involved in the GB High Street of the Year Awards and is currently organising a competition to elect a young Town Crier for Falmouth from local primary schools.
Peter Jay, Volunteer, Cotswold Water Park Trust, Wiltshire
Peter has been a volunteer for the Cotswold Water Park Trust for more than five years during which time he has had a significant impact on the visitor experience. As the Water Park is spread over three counties, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and a bit of Oxfordshire and has 150 lakes, it can be a confusing place for the first time visitor. Peter helps tourists navigate the area and all its activities by manning an information desk at the busy Gateway centre, which sees more than 250,000 visitors annually. Every Saturday and on many Bank holidays and school holidays Peter, and often his wife Jenny, can be found helping visitors with advice, leaflets, maps, local information and much more and always with a friendly smile and an enthusiastic disposition. Peter is known for ‘going the extra mile’ with visitors whether by helping a Japanese tourist whose hire car had a puncture or locating the owners of lost car keys. In addition to manning the desk, Peter manages 12 volunteers on the information desk, drawing up the rota and training new volunteers.
Gillian Scotford and Jane Carver, Co-founders of Accessible Derbyshire, Derbyshire
Gillian and Jane set up the registered charity Accessible Derbyshire 2014 to raise awareness of the wide-ranging challenges faced by disabled people, their families and carers as both visitors and residents. Drawing on and inspired by their experiences of raising three children with a range of physical and mental disabilities, they work tirelessly to improve access to accommodation, attractions and activities across the Peak District and Derbyshire area. They do this by sharing information offering practical help and investing in equipment and support services. They also offer training and advice to a broad range of businesses, organisations, groups and individuals. The charity’s motto is: “one life, live it”.
Karl Gibson, Pub Landlord, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham
Karl has been running Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem since 2012. The pub, which is said to be one of the oldest pubs in England, dates back to 1189, and the cellars, where the beer for the castle was once brewed, are set in the caves of the adjacent Nottingham Castle and date back to 1070. In addition to his landlord duties, Karl also provides tours of the infamous pub cellars free of charge and acts as an unofficial tourist information centre. He is very knowledgeable about the city of Nottingham and its attractions as well as its history and enjoys enlightening visitors with tales of medieval brewing techniques and revealing the cellars gory history which saw prisoners chained to the walls.
Duane Dibartolomeo, Owner, Grosvenor Fish bar, Norwich
Duane has owned the Grosvenor Fish Bar since 2012 shortly after he first landed on England’s shores. Originally from Miami, he spent much of his later life in New York before selecting Norwich as his home. Duane has brought his own American brand of customer service to Norwich and meets and greets every customer. He entertains the queue with his humour and banter and speeds up the process with his knack for remembering regular customers’ usual orders. Duane has a larger than life personality and is a warm and welcoming host who goes out of his way for his hungry customers. He is not just a fish and chip shop owner but acts as a tourism advisor helping visitors decide what to visit in Norwich, where to shop and what to look out for.
Alan Anderson, Park Ranger, Auckland Castle, Durham
Alan has been a Park Ranger at Auckland Castle for more than 17 years and still works tirelessly to maintain its deer park and gardens to the highest possible standards. Alan unlocks the park daily at 5am – even on Christmas Day – and is out come rain, snow or shine maintaining 200 acres of ancient parkland and woodland and enhancing the natural habitat of the local wildlife. In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities Alan works with students from local schools who are at risk of being expelled, mentoring them and teaching them about the park and its wildlife. This work has been so successful that one of the students is now hoping to become an apprentice at Auckland Castle. Alan is a truly warm and engaging person and is a real treasure of the Castle. Full of knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and dedication, he is always happy to lend a hand and has become a firm favourite for many visitors.
Liz Hill, Founder, Rural Concierge, Herefordshire
Liz started her own business in 2013 providing travel itineraries and tours to visitors and residents for groups and individuals. Liz is passionate about Herefordshire and making it accessible for all to visit the attractions and gems of the county. Rural Concierge is primarily online, but Liz can also be found at her kiosk in Hereford’s Butter Market. Along with her team, where they come face to face with visitors providing them with a wealth of information and advice about how to get ‘off the beaten track’ within the area. And this is how Liz delivers above and beyond what would be expected of a tourism professional and why she won the Best Rural Tourism Business Award at the National Rural Business Awards in 2016.
Paul Schofield, City Tour Guide, Hull & East Yorkshire
Paul is a freelance English Heritage Accredited tour guide mainly focusing on the city of Hull and the East Yorkshire market town of Beverley. Paul is an unassuming, dedicated local hero and ambassador for Hull and East Yorkshire. For the last 28 years, rain or shine, Paul can be found at the head of a group of visitors uncovering the hidden treasures of Hull to tourists. Paul’s depth of knowledge of the area, its history and its people truly enhance the experience for all those who tour the city with him. He talks about everything from the architecture, to its ties to the abolition of slavery and the historic importance of Hull in England’s history. His welcoming and friendly nature combined with his enthusiasm and passion for the region are what made Paul the only double winner of the Remarkable Yorkshire Passion Award at the Visit Hull and East Yorkshire Tourism Awards in 2010 and 2016.
Leye D Johns, Host & Compere, Viva Blackpool, Lancashire
Leye started his working life in the NHS but, as a natural showman, what had been a second job as a live entertainer took a more serious turn when he and a co-investor set up Viva Blackpool. In 2012, Viva Blackpool transformed a large empty Mecca Bingo Hall into a one room entertainment and events complex, dedicated to providing quality entertainment to Blackpool’s residents and visitors. Despite a tough start Leye has persevered with his demanding role putting a smile on the faces of more than 50,000 visitors. In the process he has brought much needed jobs to the local community whilst supporting numerous charities. Viva is a year round venue ensuring visitors are entertained and leave Blackpool with happy memories.