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All the World’s a Stage at the Visit York Annual Tourism Awards

Shakespeare’s iconic quote ‘all the world’s a stage’ was brought to life last night (Thursday 9th May), at York Racecourse, where thirteen businesses took to the podium at the annual Visit York Tourism Awards. This year’s esteemed title of York Tourism Ambassador was awarded to Damian Cruden, Artistic Director at the York Theatre Royal.

Speaking at the awards, Jane Lady Gibson, Chairman of Visit York said, ‘All of the winners go above and beyond to keep York one of Britain’s most successful city break destinations. I’m delighted too, to see Damian’s work receive a special accolade. He believes in the power of storytelling and by bringing York and its stories to life, he has helped put York on an international stage.’

Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Tourism said, ‘Damian’s achievements at York Theatre Royal over the last fifteen years have elevated York’s position as a vibrant cultural destination. His imagination and passion for the city shone through in last year’s Mystery Plays, bringing in thousands of visitors from overseas. Without Damian’s vision these plays and the highly successful Railway Children would not have come to fruition.’

Five pubs battled it out too for the people’s choice ‘Best Pub/Bar’ title, which was presented to The Golden Fleece – the only award voted for by the public during a two month promotion to ten thousand Visit York Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The hotly contested ‘Hotel of the Year’ accolade went to Middlethorpe Hall & Spa for a second year in succession for its consistently excellent service.

Two York individuals were also recognised in the roll of honour this year with Alexandra Claydon and Samantha de la Tour, Now and Then Events, receiving the Outstanding Customer Service award. Their popular vintage events, ‘York Does Vintage’ and ‘Made Locally With Love’, proving to be a big hit with visitors.

Guest Accommodation of the Year went to Bishops, Caravan Park to Robin Hood Caravan Park, Restaurant to the Oak Room at Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, Café/Tearoom to the York Cocoa House, Visitor Experience to the York Mystery Plays 2012, Shopping Experience to Hotel Chocolat, Marketing Campaign to York Racecourse for ‘Unlocking the Frankel Factor’ and Conference Venue of the Year to the National Railway Museum. Visitor Attraction of The Year was scooped by Beningbrough Hall and Gardens.

The 2013 Visit York Tourism Awards winners and finalists are as follows:

Guest Accommodation of the Year, sponsored by F R Fowler & Son
Winner: Bishops

The Bloomsbury
Carlton House

Hotel of the Year, sponsored by Streamline Taxis
Winner: Middlethorpe Hall & Spa

Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa
Dean Court Hotel
Novotel York
Royal York Hotel & Event Centre
York Marriott Hotel

Self Catering/Caravan Park of the Year, sponsored by Fulprint
Winner: Robin Hood Caravan Park

Highly Commended: Apartments 5, 6 & 12 Monkbridge Court

Jollydays Luxury Camping
The Riverside York
The York Hop Store

Restaurant of the Year, sponsored by Morrell Middleton
Winner: The Oak Room at Middlethorpe Hall & Spa

El Piano
The Grill Room at Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa
Mumbai Lounge
The Royal Oak

Café/Tearoom of the Year, sponsored by Minster FM
Winner: York Cocoa House

Café Harlequin
Filmore & Union
Spring Espresso

Visitor Attraction of the Year, sponsored by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership
Winner: Beningbrough Hall & Gardens

National Railway Museum
York Castle Museum
York Maze

Visitor Experience of the Year, sponsored by P&O Ferries
Winner: York Mystery Plays 2012

JORVIK Viking Festival
York Maze Halloween/Hallowscream
York Minster /The Orb
York Racecourse - Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2012

Shopping Experience of the Year, sponsored by Big Local App
Winner: Hotel Chocolat York

Jack Wolfskin York
Now and Then Events - York Does Vintage
Pandora York
York Cocoa House

Marketing Campaign of the Year, sponsored by Leeds Bradford International Airport
Winner: Unlocking the Frankel Factor – York Racecourse

Now and Then Events - York Does Vintage
Umbrella Sky at Clifford’s Tower
York Cultural Company – York Mystery Plays 2012
York Maze 2012 & Halloween Events

Conference Venue of the Year, sponsored by Saville Audio Visual
Winner: National Railway Museum

Merchant Taylors Hall
Royal York Hotel & Event Centre
York Conferences
York Racecourse Hospitality

Outstanding Customer Service Award, sponsored by Webmart
Winner: Alexandra Claydon & Samantha de la Tour, Now and Then Events

Guy Wallis - The Golden Fleece
Amanda Fogg - Hedley House Hotel
Shirley Fletcher- Hilton York
Rebecca & Damian Palmer-Bunting, Robin Hood Caravan Park

Pub/Bar of the Year – The People’s Choice Award – Sponsored by Deans Computer Services
Winner: The Golden Fleece

The Ackhorne
Evil Eye Lounge
The House of the Trembling Madness
The Maltings

York Tourism Ambassador, sponsored by Benenden Health
Damian Cruden, York Theatre Royal

To see photos of the awards winners and find out more about Visit York, go to: ENDS

For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of Communications – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07961 828092

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Notes To The Editor

Damian Cruden - Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal - Biography
Damian has been working in the city for the last 15 years as Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal. During this time he has directed many classic and popular productions including: The Guinea Pig Club, The York Mystery Plays 2012, Laurel and Hardy, 40 Years On, Peter Pan, My Family and Other Animals, The Railway Children, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Wind in the Willows, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kafka’s Dick, Man of the Moment, Having a Ball, Romeo and Juliet. He has also co-directed the last 15 York Theatre Royal Pantos with Berwick Kaler.

Before York, Damian worked for various regional theatres as a freelance director. He was Associate Director for Hull Truck in the early ‘90s and prior to that Co-artistic Director of the Liverpool Everyman Youth Theatre. He trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama between 1982 and 1986.

Damian believes in the power of storytelling in our lives and is particularly inspired by the stories of York. York and its stories have proved to be a very rich seam for his theatre successes in the city. At his interview for the job in York he presented his idea to stage a production of The Railway Children in a city known to be at the heart of this national industry and it took his perseverance and his powers of persuasion to interest the National Railway Museum in joining the Theatre Royal in this extraordinary endeavour. The rest is history. Two productions at the National Railway Museum attracted audiences of over 55,000, visitors and residents alike, and then his production became a flagship for the York in London when it took a starring role in the old Eurostar station in Waterloo for two years as well as a summer season in Toronto. Well over 300,000 have seen this production. It’s been one of the city’s highest profile exports over the last few years.

As the Artistic Director of a great regional theatre Damian also believes that the strength of the theatre lies in a broad ownership of the organisation’s work by our wider community. Damian has been leading from the front on York Theatre Royal’s national reputation for producing the highest quality theatre experiences for children, young people and families. York Theatre Royal is now held up as one of the most successful theatres in country. The summer family production that attracts audiences of over 20,000 from across York shire and the North is a great example of the exceptional family offer in the city during the summer.

His latest triumph in the city was his co-direction of the York Mystery Plays in 2012. An outstanding artistic, visitor and community event, it took the energy, inspiration and vision that Damian has shown across the last 15 years to realise this exceptional project. Over 33,000 came to the plays in Museum Gardens in a production that showed York at its best, with over 1,700 people from the community of York inspired to make it an experience to remember.

What Damian has brought to the city is a visionary ambition coupled with an extraordinary energy and commitment to achieve success for the city. What has been his inspiration has been the stories of our extraordinary city.

Sponsors for the Visit York Tourism Awards are:

Big Local App
Deans Computer Services
FR Fowler & Son
Leeds Bradford International Airport
Morrell Middleton
Saville Audio Visual
Streamline Taxis
Minster FM
The Press
Pilot Theatre
Slung Low
York Theatre Royal
York Cocoa House
Fulford Flowers
MissDeal Casinos

• Visit York is supported by the City of York Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with Visit England and Welcome to Yorkshire.
• Visit York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure and business visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. Visit York is responsible for leisure and conference marketing, visitor services (running the city’s Visitor Information Centre), training and ensuring a quality visitor experience.
• Visit York is the driving force of the city’s tourism industry.

Key facts:

7.1 million visitors
£443 million total visitor spend
23, 000 jobs

Images Attached:

1) Winners of the Visit York Tourism Awards 2013

2) (L-R) Cllr. Sonja Crisp – Cabinet Member for Tourism, Jane Lady Gibson – Chairman, Visit York, Damian Cruden - York Tourism Ambassador 2013 and Gillian Cruddas, Chief Executive of Visit York.