THE search is on to find County Durham’s Tourism Superstar of 2022.

Voting has now opened to find the person who shows the greatest passion for the county and a real dedication to giving visitors a priceless experience has been drawn up.

The nominees on the shortlist range from a porter at a leading hotel to a security officer at a large shopping centre, and include people who work at two of the area’s favourite museums plus a volunteer at one of its most beautiful and historic buildings.

The Durham winner will go forward to a national competition in which the county has a remarkable record of success – its champion has been crowned VisitEngland’s national Tourism Superstar in three of the last five years in which the event has been held.

The competition is being held by Visit County Durham (VCD) and The Northern Echo.

“The judges had real difficulty in compiling the shortlist because there were so many excellent entries,” said VCD chairman Ivor Stolliday. “It shows how healthy our local industry is now that it is regaining its feet after the pandemic.”

Voting will close at midday on Friday, July 15, and the winner will be announced on July 20.

In 2014, Matthew Henderson of Beamish Museum went on to become the first national champion, followed by Durham Cathedral guide Lillian Groves in 2015 and Emily Hope, also of Beamish, in 2018. Durham’s other winners – Alan Anderson of Auckland Castle, Richard Darlington of Hall Hill Farm, and Tori Goodall of Walworth Castle – have all put in strong showings in the national finals.

So who is going to carry the county’s flag this year. Here are the five shortlisted nominees with the voting buttons beneath:

The Northern Echo: Beryl Anderson, of Locomotion museum, Shildon

Beryl Anderson,
Visitor Experience Assistant at Locomotion railway museum, Shildon

If you visit Locomotion on a day when Beryl is working, you will leave with a huge smile on your face, a full shopping bag and ideas of where to visit next whether the weather is cold, hot, wet or dry (or all of them at the same time!).

Beryl is a true superstar who always wants the best for all visitors. She is passionate about the museum but also the rich and varied history of Durham and all that it offers for tourists. Beryl is truly one of a kind and would be a worthy winner.

The Northern Echo: Connor Turnbull, Security Officer at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Destination

Robert Hall,

Volunteer at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

Robert started volunteering at Ushaw back in April 2018. He is a huge asset to us. He cares passionately about the place and is a great advocate. He is at the forefront of activity and interactions with visitors, he’s always happy to answer questions and engage in conversation.

Committing on average four days per week, Robert is always willing to support wherever needed. Recently, he has also become Ushaw’s painter and craftsman, painting all the doors at Ushaw (and there's a lot!) and making some fantastic outdoor trail props for the ever-changing outdoor family activity trails.

The Northern Echo: Maria McArdle, Operations Officer at Killhope Lead Mining Museum

Maria McArdle,
Operations Officer at Killhope Lead Mining Museum

Maria is passionate about tourism and culture in Durham. She has managed Killhope Lead Mining Museum for 10 years. She is knowledgeable about her service and venues whilst providing excellent customer care. She has excellent leadership qualities with her staff providing exceptional support and management for her teams.

She is dedicated to the success of Killhope Lead Mining Museum and Durham Town Hall which she also manages and goes above and beyond her normal roles and responsibilities to achieve this.

The Northern Echo: Connor Turnbull, Security Officer at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Destination

Connor Turnbull, 
Security Officer at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Destination

Connor is the epitome of excellent service within this visitor attraction. He works extremely hard, going above and beyond the call of duty and is a true testament to the things you can achieve with dedication and hard work.

Security can be an often overlooked, challenging and demanding profession – and Connor does his job and so much more – volunteering for mental health first aid courses, staying through the night when there's been an emergency or simply being a listening ear for many of the stores – he is a real asset to County Durham.

The Northern Echo: Kevin Jackson, Porter at Seaham Hall Hotel

Kevin Jackson, 
Porter at Seaham Hall Hotel

Kevin has an astounding natural ability and presence with people. He is personable yet professional which is a hard balance to strike, but most importantly Kevin is forever memorable and loved by both staff and guests.

He always strives to make a difference and is always eager, supporting positive change and allowing the Seaham Hall Journey to keep expanding. He is known to many as Super Kev for his infectious enthusiasm and cheeky but charming personality. He is a hospitality hero in his own right.

Vote now using the form below!


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