A VOLUNTEER group set up to help visitors following the closure of a tourist information office are celebrating being given a North-East tourism award.

Durham Pointers, who can be spotted around the city in their bright pink tabards, were named as the North-East's best tourism information provider at an annual awards ceremony.

The group of volunteers were given the prize as part of the 2017 North East Tourism Awards.

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Secretary Susan Tyson said: "This win is the ideal thank you to all our volunteers. It is a great conclusion to a happy and successful season.

“It’s a real thrill to win this award. We are entirely volunteer run, and our success comes from the enthusiasm and commitment of those volunteers. They enjoy ‘pointing’ so much that they come back year after year, and encourage others to join us.

“We have received numerous positive comments during our 2017 season. A favourite tells about finding three friendly, jovial and helpful gentlemen who clearly love their city. That sums up brilliantly our volunteers’ love of what they do.”

The group has now been going for more than five years and has around 70 volunteers helping out when they can.

Set up following the closure of Durham’s tourist information office, the Durham Pointers, which picked up a Queen’s Award for voluntary services in 2015, help visitors find their way around the city’s landmarks and provide a meet and greet service to those arriving by coach.

The county won several other awards at the ceremony, held in Newcastle.

Beamish Museum got a gold award for large visitor attraction of the year for the fourth time and Event Durham, part of Durham University, won in the business tourism category.

Hall Hill Farm, in Lanchester, was given a silver award in the small visitor attraction of the year and Seaham Hall for a bronze in the hotel category.

Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “It was great to see Durham businesses shine in these coveted awards. We’re delighted that their dedication and passion for the tourist industry has been recognised.

"It is also indicative of the versatility and quality of tourism offer in Durham that we have a clutch of deserving winners.”

Beamish director Richard Evans said: “We are really delighted to win the award for the fourth year in a row.

“It’s a real credit to all of our staff and volunteers at the museum for all of the hard work they do. I hope they are proud of the success they’ve achieved.”