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Devon’s top tourism businesses recognised at awards

PUBLISHED: 11:24 14 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:24 14 November 2013

Carolyn Custerson, Chair of Visit Devon was recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Devon Tourism in a career that has lasted over 30 years.  The award was presented jointly by Rosie Bates of Devon County Council and awards organiser Robin Barker,

Carolyn Custerson, Chair of Visit Devon was recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Devon Tourism in a career that has lasted over 30 years. The award was presented jointly by Rosie Bates of Devon County Council and awards organiser Robin Barker,

Nick Williams Photography

The cream of the county’s tourism industry was at the Devon Tourism Awards

The Devon Tourism Awards paid tribute to chair of Visit Devon Carolyn Custerson for her outstanding contribution to tourism and to Westward Living for its catalytic impact on Westward Ho! among a host of winners at last night’s Devon Tourism Awards Ceremony held at the Grand Hotel, Torquay.

Now in its fourth year, the awards have seen increasing numbers of both entries and winners, with last night’s event taking every available seat at the Grand Hotel.

Winners had all been through a three-stage judging process, including assessment of their websites and entry forms, mystery visits and a final independent judging panel which was chaired by David Fursdon, former High Sherriff of Devon, who said: “Running a tourism business at a time of austerity is never easy but to do so with the style and expertise shown by our award winners demands a special skill and I am delighted to see them publicly recognised in this way.”

The cream of Devon’s tourism industry was at the awards event, which was presided over by popular Devon celebrity Judi Spiers.

No fewer than 15 gold awards were presented to businesses across 14 categories, with top awards going to businesses from right across the county.

A surprise winner was Carolyn Custerson, chair of Visit Devon, from whom all news of the judging was kept totally secret.

She was recognised for her outstanding contribution to Devon tourism in a career that has lasted over 30 years.

The award was presented jointly by Rosie Bates of Devon County Council and awards organiser Robin Barker, whose citation included the phrase: “The impact that Carolyn has had on the industry cannot be underestimated. The Devon tourism industry is all the richer for her involvement, her tenacity, drive, commitment and enthusiasm, and loyalty for her team and colleagues.”

Carolyn and her team at the English Riviera Tourism Company also took top prize in the Tourism Information Service category.

Another outstanding winner on the night was Westward Ho!’s Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud.

They picked up the gold award for Self Catering, their Groundsman Matt Druce took the Tourism Superstar award for outstanding customer service, and they went on to take the evening’s special Winner of Winners award for their wider contribution towards the regeneration of Westward Ho!

The Arundell Arms at Lifton was also a multiple winner, taking gold for Venue & Business Tourism as well as a joint gold alongside Calvert Trust in the Tourism Activity, Sport and Experience category.

In the Attractions sector Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life clearly wowed the judges taking gold as a Small Attraction, whilst North Devon’s Big Sheep took a deserved gold amongst the Large Attractions.

Food and drink providers were also well recognised, with River Cottage Canteen & Deli in Plymouth taking the top gold award in the Taste category, the Start Bay Inn winning gold as Tourism Pub of the Year and Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink recognised as the top Tourism Event.

Hedgehog Corner followed its national success in the Gold Star awards for Sustainable Tourism, taking gold amongst the B&Bs, whilst newcomer the Old Rectory in Martinhoe took the title of Hotel of the Year and Cofton Country Holidays took gold for Holiday Parks. After past successes in two other categories, Compton Pool Farm impressed the judges enough to take gold in the keenly fought Sustainable Tourism category.

Eddie Bent of headline sponsors e-Strategy said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the winners of the Devon Tourism Awards. In these tough economic times, it is heartening to see so many businesses going that extra mile to deliver an exceptional service - congratulations to you all!”

Successful businesses in the Devon Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in January 2014 and then possibly on to the National Visit England Awards later in May 2014.

The full list of winners is as follows:

BED & BREAKFAST AND GUEST ACCOMMODATION OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Clockwork Hospitality - www.clockworkhospitality.co.uk

GOLD

Hedgehog Corner, Uplyme www.hedgehogcorner.co.uk

SILVER

The Elmdene, Torquay www.elmdenehotel.co.uk

BRONZE

Larkbeare Grange, Talaton www.larkbeare.net

SELF CATERING ESTABLISHMENT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Pavey Group - www.paveygroup.co.uk

GOLD

Seahorse Apartments & Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud, Westward Ho! www.westwardliving.co.uk

SILVER

West Pitt Farm, Tiverton www.westpittfarm.co.uk

BRONZE

Devon Retreat, Beer/Seaton www.devonretreat.com

TOURISM EVENT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Devon Hampers www.devonhampers.com

GOLD

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, Exeter www.exeterfoodandrinkfestival.co.uk

SILVER

GOLDcoast Oceanfest, Braunton www.GOLDcoastoceanfest.co.uk

BRONZE

BMAD Bike Festival, Paignton www.bmad.co.uk

HOLIDAY PARK OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Stephens Scown solicitors www.stephens-scown.co.uk

GOLD

Cofton Country Holidays, Dawlish www.coftonholidays.co.uk

SILVER

Finlake Holiday Park, Chudleigh www.finlake.co.uk

BRONZE

Ladram Bay Holiday Park, Ladram Bay www.ladrambay.co.uk

TOURIST INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE YEAR

GOLD

English Riviera Visitor Information Service, Torquay www.englishriviera.co.uk

SILVER

Dartmouth Tourist Information Centre, Dartmouth www.discoverdartmouth.com

BRONZE

Ilfracombe Tourist Information Centre, Ilfracombe www.visitilfracombe.co.uk

VENUE & BUSINESS TOURISM AWARD

Sponsored by Exeter International Airport www.exeter-airport.co.uk

GOLD

Arundell Arms Hotel, Lifton www.arundellarms.co.uk

SILVER

Deer Park Country House Hotel, Weston www.deerparkcountryhotel.co.uk

BRONZE

Dartington Hall, Dartington www.dartingtonhall.com

SMALL VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Anita Newcombe Media & PR www.anitanewcombemedia.co.uk

GOLD

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, Tiverton www.tivertonmuseum.org.uk

SILVER

River Dart Adventures, Ashburton www.riverdart.co.uk

BRONZE

Broomhill Art Hotel & Sculpture Gardens, Muddiford www.broomhillart.co.uk

TOURISM ACTIVITY, SPORT & EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Brewer and Bunney www.brewerandbunney.co.uk

JOINT GOLD

Arundell Arms Hotel, Lifton www.arundellarms.co.uk

Calvert Trust Exmoor, Kentisbury www.calvert-trust.org.uk/exmoor

SILVER

Le Vignoble, Plymouth www.levignoble.co.uk

BRONZE

Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company, South Devon www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk

TOURISM SUPERSTAR AWARD FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Sponsored by Purple Cloud Consultancy www.purplecloudconsultancy.co.uk

GOLD

Matt Druce from Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud, Westward Ho! www.westwardliving.co.uk

SILVER

Debbie Dugard from Beverley Holidays, Paignton www.beverley-holidays.co.uk

BRONZE

Guest Services Team at Devon’s Crealy Great Adventure Park, Clyst St Mary www.crealy.co.uk/Devon

TASTE OF DEVON AWARD

Sponsored by Costa Rica Coffee Plantation www.costa-rica.co.uk

GOLD

River Cottage Canteen & Deli, Plymouth www.rivercottage.net/canteens

JOINT SILVER

Northcote Manor Country House Hotel, Umberleigh www.northcotemanor.co.uk

River Cottage Canteen & Deli, Axminster www.rivercottage.net/canteens

BRONZE

Annabelle’s Kitchen, Dartmouth www.annabelleskitchen.co.uk

TOURISM PUB OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Accounting & General www.accountingandgeneral.co.uk

GOLD

Start Bay Inn, Torcross www.startbayinn.co.uk

JOINT SILVER

The Jack in the Green, Rockbeare www.jackinthegreen.uk.com

The Lamb Inn, Sandford www.lambinnsandford.co.uk

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AWARD

Sponsored by Source for Business www.sourceforbusiness.co.uk

GOLD

Compton Pool Farm, Marldon www.comptonpool.co.uk

SILVER

Arundell Arms Hotel, Lifton www.arundellarms.co.uk

JOINT BRONZE

Hedgehog Corner, Uplyme www.hedgehogcorner.co.uk

Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh www.pennywellfarm.co.uk

COMMENDED

Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, Exmouth www.haven.com

LARGE VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Resort South West www.resortsouthwest.com

GOLD

The Big Sheep, Bideford www.thebigsheep.co.uk

SILVER

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor JOINT BRONZE

Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh www.pennywellfarm.co.uk

World of Country Life, Exmouth www.worldofcountrylife.co.uk

COMMENDED

Devon’s Crealy, Clyst St Mary www.crealy.co.uk/Devon

HOTEL OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Hotel Perfect www.hotelperfect.co.uk

GOLD

The Old Rectory Hotel , Martinhoe www.oldrectoryhotel.co.uk

SILVER

Percy’s Country Hotel, Virginstow www.percys.co.uk

JOINT BRONZE

Ilsington Country House Hotel, Ilsington www.ilsington.co.uk

Northcote Manor Country House Hotel, Umberleigh www.northcotemanor.co.uk

COMMENDED

Arundell Arms Hotel, Lifton www.arundellarms.co.uk

Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plympton www.boringdonhall.co.uk

WINNER OF WINNERS

Sponsored by First Great Western www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

Seahorse Apartments & Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud, Westward Ho! www.westwardliving.co.uk

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO DEVON TOURISM

Carolyn Custerson, Chair of Visit Devon & Chief Executive of English Riviera Tourism Company

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