South Devon Railway collects another tourism gong at prestigious awards dinner

By Kate Cotton in Business

SOUTH Devon Railway has picked up its tenth top tourism gong in a year, after winning a South West Tourism Excellence award.

The scenic railway picked up a silver award in the ‘large visitor attraction’ category at the prestigious awards dinner in Bristol.

The railway was in good company, with the National Trust and Stonehenge picking up silver in the same category. The world-famous Roman Baths and Pump Room at Bath picked up gold.

Dick Wood, of the SDR, said: ‘This latest gong is the first time the railway has carried off such a prestigious regional accolade, and was against some exalted company and very stiff competition.

‘We’ve had a bumper year for 2016/17 by carrying off no fewer than ten top tourism and leisure awards so far.

‘We’ve also been nominated for a national Visit England award to be announced in April 2017, bringing the possible tally to 11 prestigious bouquets in a 12-month period.’

Winning such a broad range of both regional and national awards is not only an impressive achievement for the largely volunteer-run line, but also a record haul for the seven-mile former GWR heritage steam railway running between Buckfasteigh and Totnes. The SDR’s previous record awards haul was seven in 2014.

The railway’s other awards this last year include silver for the ‘large visitor attraction of the year’ in the 2016 Devon Tourism Awards; and gold in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Business Leisure and Tourism awards 2016.

Dick Wood attended the South West Tourism Excellence awards ceremony in Bristol.

He said: ‘Being in the running for a number of ‘Blue Riband’ awards this year has seen us line up against many of our local tourism industry peers, plus some terrific competition from other leading attractions around our region.

‘It’s been a lot of hard work for us to achieve these accolades, but the South Devon Railway is now recognised as being a premier league attraction, and we’re also helping put Devon back firmly on the tourism map for top attractions and family holidays.

‘Winning silver in the South West Tourism Excellence award has been the icing on the cake for us so far - It’s a prestigious and welcome bouquet, and a great achievement for a largely volunteer run organisation, so we must be doing something right. And, we have one more award to come perhaps in the Visit England awards too in April 2017. Bring it on!’

SDR Railway Manager, Chris Williams added: ‘Winning so many awards in just one year is a very creditable achievement by our whole team, especially as it’s the first time we’ve been shortlisted in some of these prestigious competitions.

‘These awards reflect the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of all volunteers and staff throughout 2016 and into 2017, many of whom do far more than is expected of them in helping to run the railway and our constituent businesses.

‘It gives us heightened confidence that we are running a good visitor attraction and operate a sound business. On top of that, we enjoyed a good season last year too and broke through the 100,000 visitor mark again in carrying over 103,000 people - a record year in so many ways.’

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