Tourism Superstar Finalists 2017
The three finalists, now going to public vote for the title of Lancashire Tourism Superstar 2017 – the only award in the Lancashire Tourism Awards to be nominated and decided by the public are:
- David Brayshaw – Chair of Morecambe Carnival
- Laura Johnson – creator of Crafty Vintage
- Harriet Roberts – Blackburn BID Manager
David is a proud Sand Grown‘un. Born in Morecambe in the 60’s, he has lived in the area all his life, raised his family and runs a successful local business there.
Chair of Morecambe Carnival, Chair of Morecambe Events Cooperative, school Governor, past Vice Chair of Bay Tourism, past Town Councillor, member of the Bathing Water Improvement steering group, past Captain of Heysham Golf Club, the list goes on. In short, if anything is happening in Morecambe, chances are, David’s involved.
Since 2013 David has played an active role in the regeneration of the town in which he was born. He has happy memories of being part of the Morecambe Carnival in the 70’s and in 2013 decided that it was time this once popular event made a comeback. The Morecambe & Heysham Carnival had dwindled in popularity and eventually finished in 2000, but the format was tired, so David decided to reinvent it for a whole new generation, whilst still retaining some of the popular elements of the original Carnival.
Through hard work and sheer determination the Carnival made a spectacular comeback in 2014. David and his team hauled the Carnival into present day by combining a traditional Carnival parade with new innovative elements, including a live music stage. This recipe proved hugely popular, drawing an estimated crowd in the region of 30,000 in its first year.
Since its’ conception, under David’s leadership, the new MC event has developed and grown into an established festival, which dominates Morecambe’s seafront for 2 days in August. In 2017, verified numbers were in excess of 56,000 visitors over the weekend. One of the unique elements about the Carnival is that it is organised by a group of volunteers and paid for by sponsorship and donations from local businesses and community minded individuals.
David is passionate about promoting Morecambe in a positive light and can often be found speaking to church groups, youth groups and other organisations about the development of the Carnival and his future plans. His overriding ethos is that the event will be accessible to all and, as far as humanly possible, will be free to take part. One of David’s favourite sayings is that “a family can come along to our event, have two full days of quality entertainment, and not have to spend a penny if they don’t want to”.
Every year the Carnival team get straight back to work to make the following year’s event even bigger and better that the last. This enthusiasm has encouraged others to come forward with their own ideas for events in the town and has helped to foster a renewed sense of optimism about Morecambe.
David has played a huge part in the re-invention of Morecambe and firmly believes that it can once again become a must-visit destination on the tourist map.
Laura had a little idea back in 2011, of holding a small fair in a Church Hall, to bring together friendly and creative folk to sell their collections of vintage, retro wares, collectables and handmade wares.
Her belief that there are so many talented people out there, quickly gathered momentum and very soon she needed larger venues to hold her fairs and Crafty Vintage Weekenders.
Crafty Vintage was formed to create the perfect retail environment for small independent companies to flourish, typically in spectacular and interesting venues that the whole family and visitors can enjoy. Through extensive creative promotion, industry awareness and listening to what customers want, her events soon achieved continuous high footfall at tourist destinations throughout Lancashire.
Her team (a real family affair) now produce many events that attract thousands of visitors per day which brings additional revenue into the area and support many creative small businesses.
The Crafty Vintage portfolio of locations include Brockholes Nature Reserve, Hoghton Tower, Lancaster Castle, Holmes Mill, Accrington Town Hall. New venues, added in 2017, are Lowther Castle, Wyresdale Park at Scorton and Cedar Farm at Ormskirk. To date, Crafty Vintage has held 97 events, welcomed over 150,000 visitors, some of these travelling from as far afield as Scotland and Wales, bringing a total spend in the region of £1.25million to the county.
Over the years, additional elements have been introduced to their events including a varied lineup of entertainment, live music and DJ’s. Street food is also very much on the menu, with an array of trucks presenting international flavours.
The aim, to break away from the crowd and create their own independent spaces has seen lovingly crafted products thrive in a world of mass produced junk and, in the six years since it launched, Crafty Vintage has been home to hundreds of makers, creators, designers, musicians, photographers, artists, and risk takers.
Laura took a chance on something so personal, with so much uncertainty, and is now helping others to achieve the same. Whether that’s a printer, jewellery maker, wood worker, collector or simply anyone proud of what they make, they are all Crafty Vintage.
As Blackburn’s BID manager, Harriet took the initiative in entering the town in the prestigious Great British High Street Awards, leading the stakeholders to tell Blackburn’s story through a successful campaign and to final victory, beating 900 other entries to become ‘Town Centre of the Year’ and overall Winner in 2016.
For the last four years, Harriet has been responsible for delivering the communications strategy behind Blackburn BID to drive footfall to the newly regenerated town centre following £105 million investment in Cathedral Quarter, Blackburn College, The Mall, Blackburn Market, Blackburn Leisure Centre, Blackburn Bus Station and train station.
During this time, she has brought stakeholders together to help to develop a distinctive brand and positive narrative, through a series of high profile campaigns and initiatives. A programme of partnership events which Harriet has inspired have included Countryside Comes to Town, Steam Sunday, an increasingly ambitious Christmas events programme, Blackburn Comic Con, regular street markets and an Easter egg hunt involving a dozen 3 foot chocolate eggs and a giant chicken.
She has worked with stakeholders on a range of projects aimed at improving the environment which has resulted in recognition by the RHS Britain in Bloom awards. Working closely with Lancashire Police, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackburn Businesses Against Crime Initiative she has been instrumental in pulling people round the table to come up with solutions and add additional business investment. She has lobbied with stakeholders to drive forward a number of important projects to help visitors to the town feel safer including the recently introduced campaign to stop street begging.
Between 2010 and 2015 she led a group of volunteers to develop the Blackburn Heritage Festival from one Heritage Open Days event at the old Blackburn Orphanage building attracting 1000 people in 4 hours, to over 100 diverse events and activities across 50 venues. This included training a group of volunteers in local history and customer service to become ‘Talk of the Town’ hosts and a ‘hop on-hop off’ vintage bus service with costumed guides taking visitors for a tour of the town.
As a result of her passion for organising Heritage Open Days in Blackburn she was invited to speak at the national launch of the festival at RIBA in 2015, alongside the then Minister for Department of Culture Media and Sport, John Whittingdale. The following year she was asked to join the national team working on what has now become a part-time ‘hobby job’ as Media Manager for Heritage Open Days, representing 5,500 free events across England over four days every September.
As a volunteer, Harriet is a trustee with ReSource working with a group of volunteers on an £8million project to restore and reopen The Cotton Exchange, old Apollo cinema in Blackburn, transforming the semi derelict building on the high street into a state of the art multi-purpose performance and arts space for the region.