Success for district’s businesses at tourism awards

The team from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with TV presenter Martin Roberts

Some of Stratford District’s top visitor attractions are celebrating after winning big at the West Midlands Tourism Awards 2020.

Hosted by TV presenter Martin Roberts, of travel show Wish You Were Here and property program Homes Under the Hammer, the event saw prizes given to 15 venues across the region.

Held at the University of Birmingham’s Great Hall, the awards ceremony recognised the region’s finest tourist organisations.

The prestigious gold award winners in Stratford District were the RSC, which topped the large visitor attraction category, The Shakespeare Distillery in the new tourism business section, Shakespeare’s Birthplace in the international tourism category and the Howard Arms in Ilmington, which claimed the pub of the year crown.

The Butchers Social in Henley also won gold in the Taste of England award.

Peter Monks, Director at Shakespeare Distillery said “We are absolutely thrilled to have won Gold in the West Midlands Tourism Awards. Having established our business five years ago, our gins have gone from strength to strength and we introduced our distillery tours and gin school a year ago.

“Winning this award is testament to our brilliant team who work incredibly hard in producing high quality, locally made handcrafted spirits. We are continuing to expand and improve our visitor offering and are currently renovating a larger area for groups to enjoy our tours and experiences at our distillery.”

Pawel Sobiszek, general manager of the Howard Arms, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience for us and it was a great night being able to speak to other professionals in the industry. The community has been very supportive of us here and I think winning this award could potentially lead to even more bookings.”

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director, said: “We are thrilled to have won the first ever West Midlands Tourism awards Large Visitor Attraction accolade. As a world famous international theatre, based in the heart of the Midlands, we recognise the importance that tourism brings to the region.

“We are proud that we give a warm and special welcome to over one million visitors from Warwickshire, the UK and from across the globe, to our theatres in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. Through our commitment to free family activities, varied menu options in our restaurant and cafes, and our accessible pricing and shows, we continue to attract as many people as possible to have a wonderful experience here in Stratford.”

Mike Bullard, chef and owner at the Butchers Social, said: “It’s really nice to win this award, it creates a bit of a buzz and gets people talking, and we’re really excited about going up for the national award too. We’re getting visitors from far and wide, London, Liverpool but even from the United States as well.”

Hannah Jones, Manager at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, added: “We are thrilled to have won the International Tourism accolade in the West Midlands Tourism Awards. Winning this award is a testament to our team who work incredibly hard to give visitors from all over the world a warm welcome and inspiring visit to Shakespeare’s childhood home. We’re now in the running for the Visit England National Awards for Excellence, which takes place in June.”

It was a good night too for a number of others who picked up silver awards for their contribution to tourism in the region.

Stratford’s Hotel Indigo won silver in the new tourism business section, Avonlea did the same in the B&B and guesthouse category, while Baraset Barn in Stratford won silver in the small hotel section.

Go Cotswolds claimed silver in the international tourism section and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall won a silver award in the small visitor attraction category.

In addition to its gold award, the RSC won silver awards in the accessible and inclusive section and the experience of the year category, while Stratford’s Victoria Spa Lodge won bronze in the B&B and guesthouse section.

All the gold and silver award winners will now go on to represent the West Midlands at VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence in June.