Our very own Matthew Henderson has been named the winner of VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar 2015!
Matthew was the runaway winner with 3,000 more votes than second place and polling 36% of the 21,424 votes cast.
The Engagement and Participation Team Assistant was nominated for the national award by Visit County Durham after winning the inaugural Durham Tourism Superstar award in 2014.
Matthew was one of 10 finalists short-listed by VisitEngland in January. All 10 were featured in a short film on the Mirror’s website, with the public voting online for the one they thought deserved to be crowned Tourism Superstar 2015.
A record number of votes pushed Matthew into the lead in the second week of voting and kept him there until voting closed at the end of February. Angela Tidmarsh, Tourism Officer at Wychavon District Council in Worcestershire, finished in second place and third place went to Sue Copp, guest services manager, Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool.
Matthew said: “I honestly cannot believe it. I love working at Beamish and have learned so much from the Beamish team who all work hard to ensure everybody who visits has the best day out possible – so winning this award is a credit to them too.
“The support from everyone has been amazing but I never expected to win! I am so grateful to everyone who voted – thank you so much, it’s unbelievable!”
Melanie Sensicle, Chief Executive of Visit County Durham, added: “I am delighted that Matthew has won this award. It’s a testament to the quality of the staff in the tourism industry in Durham that the first Durham Tourism Superstar winner has gone on to pick up VisitEngland’s national award.”
Mirror Travel and VisitEngland joined forces for the fourth year to find an unsung English holiday hero – a person who makes magic memories from a break in England and it’s the second time that Beamish has had a finalist. In 2013 Anthony Gales was runner up in the nationwide public vote.
VisitEngland Chief Executive James Berresford said: “I’d like to congratulate all our nominees for their fantastic contribution to tourism in England and the role they play in providing top quality visitor experiences and in particular to Matthew, our Tourism Superstar 2015, who is quite clearly a very worthy winner.
“His success is a great example of the career opportunities apprenticeships can offer young people who want a long-term career in tourism and I wish him all the best for the future.
“I hope this will encourage more school-leavers into the tourism industry to enjoy the diverse range of fun and interesting jobs available across a range of skill levels.”
Matthew will receive his trophy at VisitEngland’s prestigious Awards for Excellence at the Sage in Gateshead in May.
Matthew began working at Beamish Museum nearly three years ago on a six-week college placement when he was just 17. He quickly realised working at the Museum was his dream job and was offered a two-year apprenticeship before gaining a permanent position.
Now Matthew assists in the delivery of events, assisting the museum’s communications team, undertaking research for on-site activities and also looking at and maintaining attention to detail across the site as well as having a day-to-day visitor-facing role.
The VisitEngland Tourism Superstar Award recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry, who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have a priceless experience.
VisitEngland is the country’s national tourist board. They work in partnership with the industry to develop the visitor experience across England, plan national tourism strategy, grow the value of tourism in England and provide advocacy for the industry and our visitors. VisitEngland teamed up with national newspaper The Daily Mirror to host an online public vote for The VisitEngland Tourism Superstar Award 2015.