Thousands of people are flocking to the region’s newest landmark to take in breath-taking views and enjoy a warm County Durham welcome.
3,853 visitors have already been drawn to Auckland Tower, Bishop Auckland Market Place, to see the new contemporary structure and meet its friendly staff and volunteers.
The Tower, which opened on 20 October, is the first port of call for visitors to The Auckland Project and everyone arriving there is met with a smile from its Visitor Experience Team.
The team is a mixture of staff and volunteers from Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area. They are on hand to offer a warm welcome and ensure all visitors enjoy their time at The Auckland Project and the town.
In the months leading up to the Tower’s opening, the 31-strong team received more than 200 hours of specialist training to fulfil this role. This included learning more about the history of the local area and WorldHost training, a benchmark for excellence in customer service.
One of those who completed the training is Joanne Groves, who 10 years ago left a jetsetting career in the sunny climes of Gambia, Thailand and Greece to return to Bishop Auckland.
Joanne, said: “I want to offer visitors a good first impression of the town, from the perspective of someone who loves it.
“I have two young sons and I want to help put Bishop Auckland back on the map for them.”
Members of the Visitor Experience Team are on hand to point out key landmarks and offer insight into the County Durham landscape to those taking in the sights from Auckland Tower’s 15-metre high viewing platform.
Inside, the Tower’s first floor display tells the early history of the Prince Bishops of Durham and their former home, Auckland Castle. It is also evoked through elements of the Tower’s design, by award-winning architects Niall McLaughlin, which are rooted in local history.
One member of the Visitor Experience Team, who can offer a particularly unique perspective on the town’s past is Ian Simpson. For four years, Ian volunteered at 900-year-old Auckland Castle, before it was temporarily closed for major conservation work.
Ian said: “I love meeting people and am really excited about visitors coming to Bishop Auckland and seeing what we have here. The town has a lot going for it now.
“Bishop Auckland has always been in my heart and I love doing something to support my town and help it shine.”
Visitors to Auckland Tower are able to learn about special seasonal events and activities and purchase tickets to all elements of The Auckland Project, an arts, faith and heritage destination being developed in Bishop Auckland.
This includes tickets for the already open Mining Art Gallery, as well as Auckland Castle, Spanish Gallery, Walled Garden and Faith Museum, which will open in stages over the next two years. Tickets for each of these attraction will go on sale close to their respective launches.
In the meantime, tickets to climb to Auckland Tower’s viewing platform are now available daily, priced at £3 for adults and £1 for under-16s. Admission to the tower is also included in the price of a ticket to Mining Art Gallery. For more information visit aucklandproject.org/events/auckland-tower/
The Auckland Project will be growing its Experience Team as more attractions develop and open over the next two years. For more information about volunteering with The Auckland Project visit: aucklandproject.org/volunteer-with-u/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 04, December, 2018
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