More than 10,000 readers cast their votes in the Shropshire Star’s inaugural Tourism & Leisure Awards – and on Tuesday 18th November their favourites were revealed as the competition reached its climax at a prize-giving celebration.
James Berresford, chief executive of the national tourism body VisitEngland, was guest of honour at the awards lunch, held at Enginuity in the Ironbridge Gorge.
The Shropshire Star launched the awards earlier this year as a platform to showcase best practise across the tourism and leisure sectors.
The first six awards handed out were based on votes cast by Shropshire Star readers.
Best Day Out went to Carding Mill Valley and Long Mynd, near Church Stretton, beating fellow finalists the Burwarton Show, Severn Valley Railway, and Stokesay Castle.
The award for Best Night Out went to The Buttermarket in Shrewsbury which took the prize ahead of two other Shrewsbury venues – The Hive and the Old Market Hall – plus Oakengates Theatre in Telford.
Readers chose Arthur’s at Fordhall Farm as the Best Cafe or Tearoom, whilst The Best Posh Nosh award, for restaurants and top-end bistro pubs, was won by The Hundred House at Norton, near Shifnal, which topped the readers’ poll ahead of the Michelin-starred Mr Underhill’s in Ludlow, and Sebastians of Oswestry.
Winner of Best Pub Grub was The Huntsman at Little Wenlock who beat other finalists from the outskirts of Newport, The Aston and The Fox.
In the final readers’ choice category, The Mytton Arms at Habberley was named Pub of the Year ahead of The Old Fighting Cocks in Oakengates and The George And Dragon in Much Wenlock.
Nine further awards were decided by a panel of judges from the tourism sector. The first was Small Hotel of the Year, which went to The Castle in Bishop’s Castle, run by Henry Hunter and his family for the past three years. Runner-up was The Lion & Pheasant in Shrewsbury, a boutique hotel with 22 rooms, with The Lion of Leintwardine in third place.
In the Large Hotel of the Year section, the new Premier Inn in Shrewsbury town centre was the winner. The runner-up was Park Inn by Radisson in Telford, with the Ramada Telford Ironbridge – formerly Gray’s Hotel – in third place.
The award for Best Bed and Breakfast accommodation was won by The Limes in Wellington. Grove Farm House in Condover was runner-up, with Hopton House at Hopton Heath in third.
Coalport Station Holidays won Best Self Catering ahead of other finalists in this category; The Shooting Folly near Cheswardine, Plaish Park Farm near Church Stretton, and Ashford Farm Cottages near Ludlow.
In the Business Tourism category, the judges said there was one clear winner – the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford.
The winner of the Taste of Shropshire section, for businesses which produce or prepare quality food with a local flavour, was Hobson’s Brewery near Cleobury Mortimer. Runner-up was Ludlow Food Centre, with Fordhall Organic Farm near Market Drayton in third.
There were also two awards for popular visitor attractions – one for smaller events with fewer than 50,000 visitors a year, and one for larger sites. The prize for the Small Visitor Attraction went to Hawkstone Park Follies, near Wem. The Land of Lost Content Museum in Craven Arms was runner-up.
In the Large Visitor Attraction category, top prize went to Attingham Park, the National Trust stately home near Shrewsbury. Ironbridge Gorge Museums were named runner-up, with Park Hall Countryside Experience in Oswestry in third.
The final tourism award of the afternoon was for Tourism Event of the Year, and it was won by the RAF Cosford Air Show.
Winners in full:
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