Tourism Superstar Finalists 2016
The award recognises and applauds individuals nominated by their tourism industry colleagues for their special contribution to tourism in Lancashire. This is the only Lancashire Tourism Awards that is voted for by the public, through an online vote.
The Tourism Superstar finalists are:
Simon Entwistle – Top Hat Tours
Simon is an independent tour guide with a knack for story-telling and capturing the imagination of visitors of all ages, at a wide range of attractions and locations across Lancashire. His Pendle Witches, Haunted Inns and Lancashire Ghost Tours are hugely popular with groups and individuals from all over the world. It is not unusual to find Simon out in the countryside, with a film crew from the USA or even China, promoting Lancashire to international audiences and his growing collection of films on YouTube are taking his entertaining storytelling, to an even wider audience. Closer to home, listeners to BBC Radio Lancashire enjoy his stories from the county, on his regular Friday morning slot. He’s a champion of Lancashire and is constantly adding to his portfolio of guided walks, coach tours and events that bring Lancashire history and legends to life.
Leye D.Johns – Viva Blackpool – WINNER
Leye started his working life in the NHS but as a natural showman, what had been a second job as a live entertainer, took a more serious turn when he and a co-investor set up Viva Blackpool. Transforming a large empty Mecca Bingo Hall into a one room entertainment and events complex, dedicated to providing quality, live entertainment for Blackpool’s many visitors. His first few seasons were tough but with tireless commitment Leye has in four years built audiences to 50,000 visitors, brought much needed jobs to local people and helped support many local charities that are close to his heart. Viva is a year round venue with a huge variety of in-house production shows, is host to visiting performers and with Leye D Johns as resident compere – Viva has become the talk of the town – for all the right reasons.
Sharon Jones – Samlesbury Hall
16 years ago Sharon was asked by a trustee if she could take a look at and offer any help to Samlesbury Hall, as it was in danger of closing. She did and 16 years later she is still there as Director, she simply rolled up her sleeves and set about transforming this historic hall’s fortunes. Today Samlesbury Hall is a popular and thriving visitor destination. Working with the Trustees Sharon has developed the Hall into one of the county’s most sought-after wedding venues, has breathed life into the hall with guided character tours and an array of events, created family-friendly areas, has established a Taste Lancashire accredited restaurant and, this year, has added new accommodation in the shape of Shepherd Huts which suit the landscape perfectly. Through raising much needed funds, hard work and determination Sharon has helped secure one of Lancashire’s historic gems for future generations.
Cedric Robinson MBE – Queen’s Official Guide to The Sands, Morecambe Bay
Cedric has been the Queen’s Guide to the Sands for over 50 years and at 83, is still guiding visitors safely across the perilous sands of Morecambe Bay.
His organised walks are now recreational but before the railways speeded the journey around the bay, the low tide routes across the sands were vital to the community. Cedric took on the role in 1963 and since then his walks have attracted many brave visitors to this beautiful location. As well as many celebrity walkers, he has also safely guided the Duke of Edinburgh on a horse-drawn trip across the bay. In 1999 he received an MBE for his service and to this day he sets a fair pace across the bay, leaving many younger folk following carefully in his footsteps. He is a modest man, who from time to time shares his stories and love of the county more publicly; most recently audiences heard Cedric on BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live programme, broadcast from The Platform venue in Morecambe.
Janet Simpson – Gibbon Bridge Hotel
Janet is from a Lancashire farming background, and it was here that she acquired many practical skills that would stand her in good stead for what was to come. Her parents took over the tenancy of Gibbon Bridge Farm in Chipping and in spite of the many hours dedicated to farming it did not bring great rewards and Janet’s mother Maggie started to sell her home-baked goods on Blackburn Market. Following the death of her father Alf in 1977, new ideas for the future Gibbon Bridge started to emerge. In 1982 Gibbon Bridge with just six bedrooms, a restaurant and bar was born. 2017 is the 35th anniversary of Gibbon Bridge; in that time Janet has nurtured and grown a brand new visitor destination and award-winning hotel with 30 rooms; her investment and boundless energy creating one of the county’s foremost wedding venues, with one of the Lancashire’s must-see gardens (most recently Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park tied the knot here). Janet has always championed local produce and provided consistent dining excellence at the helm of her busy kitchen.