Harrogate’s unsung hospitality heroes were rewarded for their excellence and commitment on Monday night during a gala dinner with a magical theme at Harrogate’s Royal Hall.
Now in their seventh year, the sell-out Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards, 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.
For a month long period during March members of the public and visitors to Harrogate were invited to nominate individuals who they thought deserved special recognition. Over 900 nominations were collected before a shortlist 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 are shortlisted and work in every area of hospitality, recognising the effort and commitment they make on a daily basis.”
He added: “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. The nominations we receive outline the amazing feats that this industry can generate for instance, one of this year’s winners Ian Kilpatrick as a manager on duty actually saved the life of a guest!
“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 Harrogate International Centre which bought many business tourism visitors to the district and contributes hugely towards the local economy, was rewarded with the Best Achievement of the Year award.
Simon Cotton, General Manager of the Cedar Court hotel and co-organiser of the award, said: “2014 was a great year for the district with the grandest Grand Depart taking place and to commemorate this special year David and I took the opportunity to present a Special Tourism Award to the Spotty House, Knaresborough.
“The house was shortlisted this year and we believed it deserved special recognition, it put Knaresborough on the map both nationally and internationally receiving media coverage as far away as Australia!”
What could be described as the most prestigious award of the night, the Harrogate Ambassador of the Year was won by Jean MacQuarrie, Editor of the Harrogate Advertiser Series.
Judges said in a citation that in her illustrious career Jean has been the public face of the Harrogate Advertiser for more than 25 years. During that time, the media landscape – both locally and nationally – has changed beyond recognition.
Under Jean’s leadership, the Harrogate Advertiser has remained loyal to its readers and played a vital role in promoting the town’s interests in many different ways.
With 9 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 and the Yorkshire Event Centre to promote conferences and local businesses for leisure breaks.
Waiter/Waitress of the Year sponsored by Harrogate Spring Water
Helen Mariner, Guy Fawkes
Bar Person of the Year sponsored by Matthew Clark
Cathy Bonner, The Pit
Best Achievement of the Year sponsored by Blueline Taxis
Harrogate International Centre
Special Tourism Award
The Spotty House, Knaresborough
Newcomer of the Year sponsored by Harrogate College
The West Park hotel
Chef of the Year sponsored by Sykes House Farm
Murray Wilson, Norse
Unsung Hero of the Year sponsored by Destination Harrogate
Ian Kilpatrick, Hotel Du Vin
Team of the Year sponsored by Platinum Print
Outstanding Customer Service sponsored by Leeds Bradford International Airport
Katie Jo Freer, the Yorkshire hotel
Harrogate Ambassador of the Year sponsored by Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce