TOURISM businesses have faced the most challenging year due to Covid but the prestigious White Rose Awards were in full flow this week to celebrate their determination and achievements.

The much-anticipated awards ceremony was held on Monday night and was hosted digitally for the first time ever due to the current Covid-19 lockdown.

Football pundit Chris Kamara, Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, actor Nicholas Ralph, Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft and Dr Amir Khan, were among the stars who took part in the show, either performing or sending congratulatory messages to the winners.

Hosts Natalie Anderson and Rich Williams presented 17 awards to Yorkshire businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector, recognising the very best accommodation, attractions, food and drink, produce, arts and culture.

There were emotional acceptance speeches from some winners, with cheers of joy and some tears too, from those who have operated their businesses in the most challenging of circumstances over the last nine months.

North Yorkshire businesses were well represented in the awards, with several category winners.

Rounton Coffee Roasters in Northallerton won the Producers and Makers Award, while the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award went to Cottage in the Dales in Leyburn.

There was a double win for Yorkshire’s newest 5-star hotel, Grantley Hall in Ripon, which was recognised in both the Best Large Hotel and New Tourism Business categories.

Brompton Lakes in Richmond scooped a Silver prize in the Glamping and Holiday Park category, while the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes won Silver in both the Large Visitor Attraction and Taste of England groups.

Meanwhile, Mother Shipton’s in Knaresborough won Silver in the Small Visitor Attraction category.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive James Mason said he was proud of all the winners and finalists, adding that it ‘wasn’t the Yorkshire way’ to consider cancelling the awards due to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

He said: “I’m so proud that despite the lockdown we’ve still been able to put these awards on to celebrate all our fantastic tourism businesses, albeit virtually.

“Never has our sector been more deserving of some cheerleading and recognition.

“The biggest of congratulations to all our White Rose Award winners, to everyone who got a silver or bronze award and indeed to every single finalist.

“I know how incredibly challenging this year has been, but the grit and determination to keep going is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

“The sheer quality and diversity we’ve seen tonight is all the proof we need of how ready Yorkshire is to welcome tourists back safely when we can.”

The event also raised money for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The charity was due to be the official partner for the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire which has now been postponed until 2022.