Run in conjunction with our partner, The Mirror, the campaign champions careers in tourism (for people of all ages) and promotes quality, customer service and excellence within England’s tourism industry.
Now in its ninth year, Tourism Superstar recognises and celebrates those individuals in the tourism industry who go the extra mile to ensure tourists in England have an amazing and unforgettable visitor experience. Tourism Superstar nominees are passionate about where they work and the destination they live in and consistently set the bar high for the standard of service in England's tourism industry.
The finalists have now been revealed by the Mirror. See them in action in the finalists' video and cast your vote on the Mirror website now.
Find out more about our finalists below.
Chris Earlie, Head of Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge, London
For the past ten years, Chris Earlie has been ensuring that Tower Bridge will be as important for the UK in this century as it was in the previous one. Tower Bridge has been a must-see London landmark for 125 years, but under Chris’ guidance, enthusiasm and energy, it has become a cultural and community hub, and has brought about a dramatic change in what the attraction offers, creating an experience that has seen visitor numbers rise to just under 1 million a year. Developments include free of charge installations celebrating the local workers originally involved in the Bridge’s construction, plus a wealth of new, authentic and interesting content for visitors from around the world to enjoy. Chris has also made sure the attractions remain affordable. A community ticket means that for just £1 residents of Southwark, Tower Hamlets and the City of London can visit Tower Bridge. He also put a strong emphasis on inclusivity, accessibility and education including autism-friendly early-openings, British Sign Language tours, Special Educational Needs workshops and tours, the development of the family offer and becoming fully dog-friendly.
Chris French, Director, French Brothers Ltd, Windsor
As joint director of a River Thames passenger boat company, Chris, alongside his brothers, Keith and Geoffrey, has built the company from scratch and is never afraid to get involved, whether it be driving a boat, delivering catering, engaging with customers or making directorial decisions about the company. He is an advocate for Windsor and a great ambassador for the town, having been involved in projects to restore and revive parts of the town, reclaiming them for tourism. As a manager, he always recognises the individual talents and strengths of others and is not afraid to move with the times, generating fresh and inventive ideas for tourism in the borough. He renovated two genuine coal-fired steamboats which operate throughout the summer. Although the steamboats receive a lot of private hire work and enquiries, Chris is always sure to share his passion with the general public and tourists. He operates public cruises, so that tourists from far and wide can have the most special, unique, affordable and rare opportunity to ride on a genuine steamboat. Sharing the steamboats with tourists is something Chris feels is his duty as a boater and an ambassador for Windsor.
Clare Phillips, Visitor Services Manager, Barbican TIC and Mayflower Museum, Plymouth
Clare manages Plymouth’s award-winning Barbican Tourist Information Centre and Mayflower Museum with a team of visitor service assistants who meet and greet visitors at Plymouth’s Tourist Information Centre each year. Having worked in Plymouth for over 25 years she has incredible experience and knowledge of Plymouth as a destination and is a strong advocate of the city. Clare is an active part of the local community and has unparalleled knowledge of our hotels and attractions, always offering help and support in new initiatives to attract tourists and support visitor enquiries. This year Clare has supported training for the Cruise Liner volunteers and also for our Mayflower Maker volunteers who will support in welcoming visitors during 2020, the Mayflower 400 commemorative year, in which Plymouth is the lead city. She regularly goes the extra mile even dressing up as an Elf at the Waterfront Christmas light’s switch-on. She was instrumental in her team winning a variety of awards including Silver award for Visitor Centre of the year at the Devon Tourism Awards and Best Professional Services Business at the Plymouth City Centre & Waterfront Awards in 2018, and Silver for Visitor Information Service of the Year for the Devon Tourism Awards 2019.
Guy Rowland, Visitor Experience Facilitator, Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Shropshire
Guy Rowland has been at the heart of Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s memorable stays and experience days for over 15 years. He works at Blists Hill Victorian Town, a flagship attraction not only in our UNESCO World Heritage Site but also in the regional cultural portfolio. Guy is employed as a roaming first-person interpreter/facilitator to pro-actively engage visitors in a variety of authentic Victorian ‘scenarios’. Guy plays a number of roles each day including school teacher, pianist, drunken soldier, priest and, most popularly, policeman. Blists Hill Victorian Town is the largest museum in the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums and we want every visitor to leave with a smile on their face. This is where Guy plays a key role – he’s very much at the forefront of everyone’s visit shouting cheering greetings from the Policeman’s cycle, petting dogs and leading a rousing sing-song on the piano in the pub. Guy really does help make memories for all visitors – he will chat about the ‘olden days’, ‘apprehend’ misbehaving youngsters and will greet every staff member by their full name. All of these small and simple touches gently build a detailed and immersive visit and help you feel like you really are back in 1900. Guy is a natural entertainer and a very well-known face and he invariably features in post-visit feedback. He’s frequently mentioned as a stand-out part of a visit, by people of all ages, and it’s been known for people to check if he’s working before planning a visit.
Hayley Mullaney, Head Mammal Keeper and Assistant Curator, Cotswold Wildlife Park
Hayley has been responsible for some truly amazing events at the Park (often organised in her own time). She was the instigator and organiser of the Park’s first-ever “Dreamnight at the Zoo” - an invitation-only after-hours event for chronically ill and disabled children and their families to exclusively enjoy the wildlife park. Hayley has been the event organiser for six years and is brilliant with the children, families and charities, making it a very special evening to remember filled with memories. She is always coming up with new ideas to help deserving causes. For example, recently noticing that a lot of drinking bottles, sunglasses and hats were being left behind at the Park by visitors and not being collected, Hayley found a children’s charity in Ghana who would make great use of these items. She also goes above-and-beyond her role as Head Mammal Keeper when it comes to looking after the animals. In 2017, Belle, the park’s first hand-reared rhino calf, needed around-the-clock care. On top of her daily responsibilities, Hayley spent nights by Belle’s side, which included bottle-feeding her at 2am. Her dedication and care is inspiring.
Jim Morrison, Volunteer Tour Guide, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Jim started volunteering with the Old Royal Naval College in February 2010 and has since been a consistently committed member of the volunteer team. He has excelled in history training and assessments and is now an experienced and highly knowledgeable Volunteer Tour Guide. Jim has been delivering visitor tours and trained up in a very short time to deliver the two new tours that were introduced as part of the new ticketed offer since March 2019. Jim works full time during the week, and often comes in on a Saturday. This speaks for his high commitment to supporting the Visitor Experience and Retail Team and to the Old Royal Naval College overall. Come rain or shine, Jim’s site tours always take place, and his passion and warm personality make them an excellent experience for everyone, no matter the weather.
Lorry Middleton, Hovertravel Handling Agent, Hovertravel Ltd, Portsmouth
Lorry is a long-term Hovertravel employee, having started in 2011. His roles include welcoming customers, seeing the craft in and out, scanning and selling tickets and souvenirs, and being an approachable, visible point of contact for all visitors. His commitment to the customer is his highest priority, making sure that customers are sitting comfortably, that they know what will happen at the other end of their hovercraft journey and by making insightful suggestions and recommendations to greatly improve the customer’s overall trip. Lorry is not just an ambassador for Hovertravel, he actively promotes the Isle of Wight to customers. His knowledge of the Island has been built up over the years and he keeps himself abreast of the latest developments and current offers. This means he can provide advice and information to cover almost any trip across the Solent. Always actively contributing to marketing meetings, in 2019 he suggested a promotion to raise awareness of free travel for dogs onboard Hovertravel which generated significant exposure in local press.
Nigel Seddon, Managing Director, Elgin Hotel and Hotel Sheraton, Blackpool
Nigel has been involved in Blackpool tourism since he was a young boy helping his parents following their purchase of the 89-bedroom Elgin Hotel in 1969, officially joining at 21. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the hotel, also acting as host, greeting guests on arrival and taking the time to chat with each and every table in the dining room. As a result, Nigel gets to know the Elgin guests well and over 65% choose to return. Nigel also helps the chefs serve meals and has also been known to step in and assist the bar with entertainment; he’s a pretty handy Bingo caller! Nigel is committed to sharing how fantastic Lancashire is with his guests and encourages them to explore the wider county by offering free coach tours from the hotel to destinations and attractions across Lancashire. Nigel believes this is the best way to boost the local economy, whilst proudly showcasing the Lancashire’s diverse offering for holidaymakers. In recent years, Nigel worked with the Blackpool Illuminations department to resurrect a disused tableau and give it an ‘Elgin’ makeover. This gave the Illuminations department a further 10 years of guaranteed investment from the Elgin Hotel – and in return, the Elgin has its very own piece of Illuminations history. In 2015, Nigel purchased the Hotel Sheraton, also in Blackpool, investing £3million to renovate, as he believes in doing his best for Blackpool.
Olivia Thackstone, Front of House Manager, World of Wedgwood, Stoke-on-Trent
Nicknamed the “local guidebook”, Olivia Thackstone was brought up in the tourism and hospitality industry in the guest house run by her parents in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and has a passion for the region’s famous Potteries. At school she could talk non-stop about “saggarmaker’s bottom-knockers”, “downdraughts” and “dippers” - as well as how bottle kilns work, and she found an aptitude for guiding friends and relatives around local attractions. Seeking a job that could combine history, art and leadership, she started an apprenticeship in the hotel industry, where she learned the art of hospitality. At age 23 she started a Blue Badge Guide course and quickly found a position as Tour Guide at World of Wedgwood - a recently opened, world-class visitor attraction in Stoke-on-Trent, where she was able to share her knowledge with visitors who regularly commented on her passion for Wedgwood and The Potteries. She would simply reply, “It’s in my blood”.
Tori Goodall, Head Falconer, Walworth Castle Birds of Prey, Durham
Tori spent seven years establishing a successful visitor attraction at Walworth Castle, which has become renowned for its educational, fun-filled falconry displays and first-class experiences. Her main aim has always been to ensure every visitor has a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they visit the birds of prey and leaves with a smile on their faces. Tori oversees the introduction to the birds, participates in the fabulous falconry flying displays and is involved in a huge range of experience days. Having been born and bred in the local area, she is extremely passionate about promoting tourism across Durham and has developed her own promotional handout, providing information about things to do, places to see and great places to stay in the local area, her handout even includes hidden gems and dog walks for the outdoor enthusiast. Her tireless and passioned commitment to the visitors can be seen through TripAdvisor, Google and Facebook reviews. Her passion for conservation education shows through her displays with the birds and she regularly promotes Durham and is a huge advocate for the upper dales and its wildlife. She also works closely with local papers, local radio stations to promote tourism in the county.