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Attractions await awards' final

Seven 'DATA' members shortlisted by Visit Devon

Seven of ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’  members have reached the finals of the 2020 Devon Tourism Awards organised by the county’s destination marketing organisation ‘Visit Devon’. 

The Big Sheep, Bideford; Quince Honey Farm, South Molton; Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh; Powderham Castle, Kenton; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; Stuart Line Cruises, Exmouth; and South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh could walk off as top dogs in the awards.

It comes as tourism businesses facing the worst crisis they have ever had to endure.  After going through a really tough 2020 when some attractions were unable to open at all, Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA) members were delighted to learn that ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’ has still been recognised for their excellence and resilience, and shown that they are clearly leading the way in dealing with the pandemic properly and safely. 

Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA) chairman Dick Wood, who is also the South Devon Railway’s PR & business development manager and the railway’s former general manager, is a finalist for the ‘Business Leader of the Year’ award. 

He was nominated after being instrumental in steering DATA throughout the pandemic period and like all of the DATA executive board, Dick gives his time on a purely voluntary basis.  

He has also been very active in publicising the very successful ‘SOS’ funding appeal for the South Devon Railway over the last year, and has also assisted with the nearby West Somerset Railway’s ‘emergency’ appeal voluntarily too which has also been a success.  To date, these two iconic heritage railways have raised a staggering £2.5 million between them - money which will hopefully help to save both West Country steam lines for the future. 

He said: “It was a pleasant surprise to be nominated for an award, and being recognised as a finalist is not only an honour for the South Devon Railway and the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions but also for me personally of course."

But Dick has stiff competition from Chris Murray from Pennywell Farm, who is also a finalist in the same ‘Business Leader’ category. Pennywell has also been awarded finalist status for the ‘Visitor Attraction of the Year’ Award. And Pennywell is up against two other DATA members in the same visitor attraction category with Quince Honey Farm and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. 

Pennywell employee Hannah Pattie is a finalist in the ‘Unsung Hero’ award. She shares the ‘Unsung Hero’ finalist status with fellow members Naomi Hunt from Powderham Castle and the late Ian Stuart from Stuart Line Cruises, Exmouth who sadly died last year.

Other finalists include Rick Turner from the Big Sheep who is a finalist in the ‘Tourism Innovation’ award and who has shown great originality and resourceful inventiveness at his attraction and particularly throughout the Covid journey.  Quince Honey Farm is also a finalist in this section for their innovative strengths.  

The 2020 Devon Tourism Awards received 124 entries and nominations with 66 having been selected as finalists. Winners will be announced on 12 March.                

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