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Harrogate’s hospitality heroes celebrated at awards evening

Harrogate’s unsung hospitality heroes were rewarded for their excellence and commitment on Monday night (3rd June) during a glittering gala dinner at the Harrogate International Centre’s Royal Hall.

Now in their fifth year, the sell-out awards evening, which is organised by Destination Harrogate, was hosted by Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.

The Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards aim to promote the town’s hospitality offering through celebrating and rewarding those individuals who show the highest levels of commitment and strive towards excellence on the town’s behalf.

During February and March members of the public and visitors to Harrogate were invited to nominate individuals who they thought deserved special recognition. Over 800 nominations were collected before a shortlist of 37 was chosen by judges across nine categories.

David Ritson, Chair of Destination Harrogate and General Manager of The Old Swan Hotel, said:

The awards are a fantastic event for the town and beyond. They reward not only the winners, but all those who work in every area of hospitality, recognising the effort and commitment they make on a daily basis.

Once again we received a huge number of entries this year and it was great to see such a large number of the community getting involved. We have been able to reward some very worthy winners. The success of the awards in just a short space of time is also reflective in the diversity of businesses and associations getting involved, with the short list this year including not only hotels, restaurants and bars, but also a Crime Writing Festival, a Christmas Market, an aerial adventure – Log Heights and even a roller disco amongst others!

This year’s winners include The Harrogate Christmas Market which in its first year and created in little over 4 months, attracted 141 market trader stalls and over 30,000 visitors to Harrogate town centre over four days in November 2012. Despite the best efforts of the dreadful weather the organisers received many positive testimonials and both market stall holders and nearby local businesses reported strong sales. Plans are already a foot to make this year’s market better than last year.

Mark Lancaster from the Harrogate Christmas Market said:

The whole team are overwhelmed by the Award, many people are unaware that the event was set up in a very short period of time by a group of volunteers.

To be recognised in this way and to stand on a stage in front of packed Royal Hall filled with some of the most respected companies and individuals in the Harrogate District as well as professionals from the exhibition industry was a real honor.

Harrogate now has another awarding wining event to shout about and the team are hard at work planning for The Harrogate Christmas Market which will be held at St Mary’s Walk on Thursday 28th November until Sunday 1st December 2013

One of the most prestigious awards of the night, the Harrogate Ambassador of the Year was won by Peter Banks, Managing Director of Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf. Peter is passionate about high quality customer service and under his leadership the team at Rudding Park work together to achieve great results. In 2013 they were awarded the coveted TripAdvisor Best Hotel in the UK for the third year in a row. Peter is also a Director of the Destination Management Group, Visit Harrogate and works tirelessly to promote the region and put Harrogate on the map.

With 10 of the towns leading hotels as members, Destination Harrogate welcomes almost 300,000 guests each year and collectively employs over 900 members of staff. The Association has been in existence for many years with the enduring goal of promoting Harrogate as a destination, working in close partnership with the Harrogate International Centre and Yorkshire Event Centre to promote conferences, business and leisure breaks. Members work together and with other tourism-led businesses in order to promote high standards within the industry and the town.

The 2013 Award winners are:

Waiter/Waitress of the Year – sponsored by Sunlight Textile Services

Sarah Jane Sowden – Deano’s Graze and Grill


Bar Person of the Year – sponsored by Matthew Clark

Dan Howard – The Old Bell Tavern


Chef of the Year – sponsored by Sykes House Farm

Darren Gladman – The Square Bar & Restaurant


Team of the Year – sponsored by Platinum Print

Rudding Park hotel


Newcomer of the Year – sponsored by Harrogate College

Darren Gladman – The Square Bar & Restaurant


Unsung Hero – sponsored by Destination Harrogate

Mary Bond – Harrogate In Bloom


Best Achievement of the Year – sponsored by Blueline Taxis

Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce – Harrogate Christmas Market


Outstanding Customer Service – sponsored by Leeds Bradford Int. Airport

David Straker – William & Victorias Restaurant & Wine bar


Harrogate Ambassador – sponsored by Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce

Peter Banks

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