By Samantha Lewis
This year’s White Rose Awards saw a gin school and distillery from Hull, win four times.
Founded only last year, in early 2018, Hothams gin school is due to open another distillery in Leeds city centre.
The company received Gold for Experience of the Year, Silver for both New Tourism Business award and Small Visitor Attraction of the Year, and Bronze for Producers and Makers award.
Simon Pownell, distiller and co-founder of Hothams, said: “We couldn’t believe it when we heard our name called out as winner of the Gold award for Yorkshire’s Experience of the Year – we never dreamed we’d be shortlisted alongside such well known and established businesses from Yorkshire, let alone win the category.
“As the evening went on and our name was called out again for the two silver awards and the bronze, we were just gobsmacked.”
Emma Kinton, distiller and co-founder, added: “To be recognised as the best experience in the whole county, after only a year of trading – and as complete newcomers to the tourism industry is something we’re proud of.”
The annual event gives an opportunity for Yorkshire to showcase the best and the brightest it has to offer, with it being the largest tourism awards ceremony in the UK.
There were 19 categories, which differ slightly to the previous years due to VisitEngland undertaking a review of the awards as they look to modernise them.
The review is aimed at ensuring that they continue to recognise businesses and individuals that deliver experiences for visitors, raising the profile of England as a world-class destination.
A Welcome to Yorkshire spokesperson said: “There is so much to celebrate in Yorkshire right now, from our globally renowned food and drink sector, to our stunning heritage, showcased so beautifully this year with international arts events and rating winning films and TV shows”.
Tourism contributes massively to the Yorkshire economy, with independent research by Sheffield Hallam University showing that it is worth £9 billion per annum.
Nick Smith, founder of YorTours, was a finalist last year, and was nominated again for two categories, where he won Silver for Experience of the Year.
He said: “To be shortlisted up against some household names in the tourism/ hospitality/ leisure industry has not yet sunk in.
“We’ve gone from a standing start of my business five years ago, and I’m immensely proud of Yorkshire and all those shortlisted. This, following my BBC1 documentary in September (A Matter of Life and Debt) – is just awesome beyond belief.”
He added: “Silver Award makes me immensely proud in a competition which is rigorous, fair and respected.”
Winners of the categories were acknowledged by gold, silver and bronze. However, those labelled with VE will have automatic progression to the VisitEngland national finals.
To find out the winners of the other categories, click here