Durham Tourism Superstar 2017
The search is on for Durham’s fourth Tourism Superstar
Previous Durham Tourism superstars have gone on to win the overall Visit England national title; Matthew Henderson from Beamish Museum (2014) and Lilian Groves of Durham Cathedral (2015). Last year’s winner Alan Anderson, a volunteer ranger at Auckland Castle, reached the national final.
Voting runs until July 5th and we will announce the winner at our annual garden party at Crook Hall on July 13.
Beamish is a living, working museum, set in 300 acres of beautiful Durham countryside. Dorothy is the Town & Pit Life Team Leader and has been at the museum since 1999. She manages a team of 50 staff including the costumed engagers in the 1900s Town and Pit Village. She is very hands-on and leads by example, she is always out and about, chatting to visitors and helping to make their day special. It’s very easy to spot Dorothy in The Town or Pit Village at Beamish – she’s the small lady in the beautiful purple costume, with the infectious smile and boundless energy!
Dorothy is happiest and really shines when out and about interacting with visitors. She shares her wealth of knowledge with everyone she meets and loves to hear their stories “I remember when….”, “We had one of those…” - it’s this interaction which visitors remember.
Dorothy always goes the extra mile making sure that every visitor has a wonderful experience. She might be marshalling a parade of giant steam engines trundling through The Town or reuniting a lost child with its parents. Whatever she’s doing, she always puts the visitors first, and always with a dimpled smile and a cheerful word.
Dorothy’s attention to detail is second-to-none, making sure that exhibits in her care are perfect and accurate and that there are always activities happening.
Dorothy is Beamish’s unsung hero, their very own Durham Tourism Superstar!
Hall Hill Farm
This farm attraction is set in attractive Durham countryside, offering family fun with the opportunity to see and touch animals at close quarters. Not only is Richard a shepherd, farm tour guide and activity leader he is also involved with new attractions at the farm, and manages the social media accounts. Richard is the current Young Farmer of the Year (Northern Farmer’s Award).
Richard always goes the extra mile to give every visitor a memorable experience. At lambing time he can be seen lambing sheep and giving a commentary at the same time, much to the delight of the watching visitors. He works tirelessly to ensure the farm is immaculate - cutting grass, mucking out the animals and then pressure washing the paths, until late into the evening to ensure everything is clean and tidy for the next day.
Richard is a firm favourite with school visits, he quickly learns the children’s names, is amazingly enthusiastic and is very knowledgeable. He is very patient and encouraging with nervous children who are unsure about feeding the animals. He was specifically requested by several schools this year to guide their visit.
He introduced sheep racing, the farm’s most popular daily event, and gives a great commentary. In 2015 he also introduced a special lambing live evening which has been a huge success and is now an annual event.
Nothing is too much trouble for Richard; where excellent customer service is involved he really is one of Durham’s tourism superstars.
Durham Castle Museum and Tours
Durham Castle is not a traditional museum; it is home to University College, part of Durham University: in addition it is also a B&B, event venue, and part of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site. Caitlin is responsible for ensuring that all visitors receive a high quality and exceptional visitor experience. She assists with the overall development, delivery and evaluation of the tours in order to develop a unique visit. She’s a great ambassador and is well known for offering a warm and open welcome to all visitors.
In her 3 years at Durham Castle she has helped transform and reinvigorate the tours, whilst increasing public engagement. Comments about Caitlin can be found throughout TripAdvisor and in the comments book. They all read along similar lines of “Caitlin, really knew her stuff and was lovely”, to “best and friendliest guide” and “leaving feeling inspired”.
She often goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that visitors have an enjoyable tour, whether finding extra information for visitors or costumes and trails for children. All of which brings visitors back and builds upon the reputation of the tours as high quality, personal and engaging. There aren’t many tours where people come back again but with Caitlin as a guide this happens regularly.
Visitors, students and staff return not only to listen to the castle’s history but to feel the enthusiasm and dedication that she projects into all that she does, in particular the tours. It is her personality and the professionalism that have helped transform Durham Castle tours and her love to inspire and share knowledge which make her a great candidate for Durham Tourism Superstar.