Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 13.32.47As English Tourism Week gets underway VisitEngland is delighted to announce that Lilian Groves from Durham Cathedral in Durham City has won a public vote to become England’s Tourism Superstar 2016.

This is the second consecutive Tourism Superstar win from Durham after Matthew Henderson, Engagement & Participation Team Assistant at Beamish Museum, scooped the national award last year.

Competing against ten other shortlisted finalists, Lilian, 87, came top of a public vote run by the national tourist board in partnership with the Daily Mirror.Designed to recognise the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry, the accolade is awarded to individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have a memorable experience.

All 11 shortlisted finalists featured in a short film on the Daily Mirror website, with the public voting online for the one they thought deserved to be crowned Tourism Superstar 2016. Over 12,400 votes were generated in total this year and Lilian received an impressive 22% of the total votes cast.

Lilian works as a Senior Guide at Durham Cathedral and has volunteered there for the last 25 years. She is an experienced guide with a wealth of knowledge who regularly and passionately leads guided tours for the public and notable stars. Capturing the hearts and minds of visitors from across the globe, Lilian is synonymous with Durham Cathedral.

During Durham Cathedral and Visit County Durham’s enthusiastic campaigning, Lilian received public support from the legendary musician Sting, had a choral song written and performed for her and was immortalised in Lego.

Lilian scooped the prestigious national award after she was nominated by Visit County Durham following her Durham Tourism Superstar award win in 2015. In a coup for the destination management organisation, it is the second year running that their Durham Tourism Superstar has won the accolade.

Lilian, who lives in Durham City, is one of the cathedral’s most experienced guides, regularly leading tours for members of the public as well as group visits. She conducts about a hundred tours a year and high-profile guests she has welcomed over the years have included Princess Anne, author PD James and actress Sheila Hancock.

Rose MacInnes, Visitor Centre Supervisor at Plymouth Gin (Blackfriars Distillery) in Plymouth, was a worthy runner-up in second place and Rachel Duffield,Learning and Engagement Officer at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse in Norfolk, was incredibly close behind in third place.

Commenting on her achievement, Lilian said: “I was thrilled to discover that I had won VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar Award 2016! It is wonderful news – not for me, but for Durham Cathedral and the whole county. I feel so grateful for the support that I have received from staff and other volunteers at Durham Cathedral throughout the campaign and it is overwhelming to know that so many people voted for me as their Tourism Superstar. I would like to thank everyone who voted, and encourage everyone to visit Durham and Durham Cathedral. It is such a special place!”

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director of Visit County Durham, added: “We are absolutely delighted that Lilian has won this prestigious national title. Lilian is an extremely worthy winner and her work as a volunteer tour guide has clearly struck a chord with so many people. The fact that this is two years in a row that Durham Tourism Superstar winners have gone on to win VisitEngland’s national Tourism Superstar award is also testament to the quality of the people working in Durham’s tourism industry.”

Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland said: “I’d like to congratulate all our finalists for their fantastic contribution to English tourism, and in particular Lilian for winning Tourism Superstar 2016. Her lengthy dedication to her role at Durham Cathedral and her commitment to ensure all visitors to the cathedral and Durham benefit from a top quality visitor experience clearly made her a deserving winner. Overall, we had a marvellous response this year to the competition and I wish Lilian the very best and many more years of delivering exceptional tours.”

Lilian will be invited to accept her award at VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence held on 8 March 2016 at Blackpool Winter Gardens, where an audience from across the tourism industry will recognise the contribution individuals and businesses bring to tourism in England.

The Tourism Superstar accolade was launched in 2012 as part of the first-ever English Tourism Week. English Tourism Week 2016 is designed to promote the value of the tourism industry at a national and local level.  This week (5 – 13 March) will see hundreds of attractions, hotels and other tourism businesses across England delivering special events, promotions and competitions to encourage more visitors through their doors and inspire people to become tourism ambassadors for their local area.

To find out what’s going on in Durham during English Tourism Week 2016, visit: http://www.thisisdurham.com/english-tourism-week/events