The annual Tourism Superstar competition, run by VisitEngland, aims to recognise those individuals who have gone above and beyond in their jobs to make visitor experiences memorable.
Hall Hill Farm shepherd and winner of Visit County Durham’s Tourism Superstar 2017 award Richard Darlington was shortlisted for a prestigious national prize.
Richard was one of 10 finalists across the country to have made the coveted shortlist for VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar 2017 award, with the winner being announced during English Tourism Week (17-25 March 2018).
Richard is passionate about the importance of diversification and introducing new activities to keep visitors engaged. He introduced ‘Sheep Racing’ at Hall Hill Farm, which continues to be one of the most popular daily events and in 2015 launched ‘Lambing Live’, an annual event which streams the farm’s maternity ward in Spring to keep visitors connected 24/7.
The hardworking shepherd and farm guide always goes the extra mile to give visitors a memorable, immersive experience and was put forward for the national award by Visit County Durham.
The high-profile national competition has recognised several Durham Tourism Superstars over the years. Lilian Groves, an octogenarian volunteer senior tour guide at Durham Cathedral took the crown in 2016, and in 2015 Matthew Henderson, engagement and participation team assistant at Beamish Museum, triumphed, having originally joined the team as an apprentice. Auckland Castle Park Ranger Alan Anderson was a finalist in the 2017 awards and Beamish Museum’s Anthony Gales came in at third place in 2014.
VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar initiative recognises the heroes within the industry who far exceed the call of duty to ensure visitors have the most amazing experience.
Alan has been Park Ranger at Auckland Castle for more than 17 years and works tirelessly to maintain its deer park and gardens to the highest possible standards. Whatever the weather Alan is out maintaining 200 acres of ancient parkland and woodland and enhancing the natural habitat of the local wildlife at the castle. He was nominated to be Durham’s Tourism Superstar in 2016 by his colleagues who said he is a truly warm and engaging person and 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 of the castle’s visitors. After becoming Durham’s 3rd Tourism Superstar in 2016, Alan is now competed against 9 others from venues across England to win the coveted national award.
Lilian Groves was crowned Durham’s Tourism Superstar, and now the Durham Cathedral tour guideand this year has been announced as VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar 2016 .
Lilian, 87, has been a volunteer at the cathedral for 25 years, was nominated by her colleagues because of the enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge that she brings to the role, attributes that have won her praise from visitors from around the world.
Lilian's guided tours are in such high demand, she is regularly booked up to TWO YEARS in advance.
This is not the first time that Durham’s Tourism Superstar has gone on to the national finals; with Anthony Yates and Matthew Henderson having both made the finals in the previous two years, with Matthew taking the national crown in 2015.
The national tourism Superstar campaign recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry, and is awarded to an individual who goes beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have an unforgettable experience.
CEO of VisitEngland, James Berresford said: “Showcasing the passion and commitment of highly skilled individuals within the English tourism industry, is precisely why Tourism Superstar 2016 will be a success. This award recognises the people on the ground who meet and greet visitors on a daily basis, and whose consistent vision and dedication ensures that visitors to England have a memorable and fulfilling experience.”
Matthew Henderson, an engagement and participation team assistant at Beamish Museum in Durham was named VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar of 2015! He was presented with his award at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence by VisitEngland Chairman, Lady Cobham CBE, and Nigel Thompson, Travel Editor at the Daily Mirror. Of the record 21,500 votes received in a public poll on the Daily Mirror website, Matthew swept to victory after his nomination video received 36 per cent of the votes beating nine other worthy contestants.
Starting as a work experience student at the museum during his 6th form years, Matthew, now 20, then embarked on a two-year full-time apprenticeship scheme at Beamish, and has since dedicated his career to working in tourism.
Visit County Durham puts forward the winner of the Durham Tourism Superstar award to the national scheme – so good luck to Lilian Groves, senior guide at Durham Cathedral, who is in the running to be named as VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar 2016.