Harrogate’s unsung hospitality heroes were rewarded for their excellence and commitment on Tuesday night (31st May) during a glittering gala dinner at the Harrogate International Centre’s Royal Hall.
Now in their third year, the sell-out awards evening, which is organised by Destination Harrogate, was hosted by Rosemary Shrager, celebrity TV chef and raconteur.
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 700 nominations were collected before a shortlist of 33 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.”
“We received so many 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. Not all of them come from places you would expect; one of last year’s winners, for instance, was Derick England who does some fantastic work behind the scenes at the Harrogate Theatre, who also won the Best Achievement of the Year having made the incredible journey from the jaws of closure in recent years to celebrating their best year in a 110 year history. We are extremely lucky to live and work in a town where the community comes together to make it such a great place.”
This year’s winners include The Golden Oldies Cricket Festival which brought nearly a 1,000 international visitors to the district in August last year and contributed hugely towards the local economy, was rewarded with the Best Achievement of the Year award and was collected on the night by Sir Thomas Ingilby.
One of the most prestigious awards of the night, the Harrogate Ambassador of the Year was won by Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals. Sharon and the team have had many successes including the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, the Summer Festivals, the Sunday Series concerts, the Fringe Festival, the Sporting Words Festival, the Green Space Festival of outdoor street arts, and Harrogate International Festivals has a leading role in the North Yorkshire Youth Music Action Zone. Sharon has led a team to create a portfolio of some of the country’s most prestigious arts events, featuring the biggest names in the arts world.
With 13 member hotels, 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 to promote conferences and local businesses for leisure breaks. Members work together and with other tourism-led businesses in order to promote high standards within the industry and the town.
The 2011 Award winners are;
Waiter/Waitress of the Year sponsored by Sunlight Textile Services – Sandra Piscopo, Restaurant Bar & Grill
Bar Person of the Year sponsored by Harrogate Spring Water – Craig Drummond, Montey’s Bar
Best Achievement of the Year sponsored by Blueline Taxis – Golden Oldies Cricket Tournament
Chef of the Year sponsored by Sykes House Farm – Ian King, Pavilions of Harrogate
Unsung Hero of the Year sponsored by Destination Harrogate – Derrick Fox, Royal Baths Building
Team of the Year sponsored by Platinum Print – Crusade Exhibition Services
Outstanding Customer Service sponsored by Leeds Bradford International Airport – Chris Weatherald, The Old Swan Hotel
Harrogate Ambassador of the Year sponsored by Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce – Sharon Canavar, Harrogate International Festival