Vote for Lancashire’s Tourism Superstar 2015

8 October 2015


Marketing Lancashire today (Thurs 8 October) announced a shortlist of five finalists for the Lancashire Tourism Awards Tourism Superstar 2015. The award recognises and applauds individuals nominated by their tourism industry colleagues for their special contribution to tourism in Lancashire.  This is the only Lancashire Tourism Awards that is voted for by the public, through an online vote.

This year’s finalists are: John Gillmore, BBC Radio Lancashire presenter ‘Gilly’; Tina Midgley, Head Merchandiser Northern Print Distribution Blackpool; Elaine Smith, President of Blackpool Civic Trust; Joshua Walker, Fire Beater at Queen Street Mill Burnley; Michael Williams, Managing Director of Winter Gardens Blackpool.

Marketing Lancashire has teamed up with the [Lancashire Evening Post], host of the online public vote with the general public invited to cast their vote via the awards website and through promotions on

Votes must be cast by Sunday 18 October. The votes will then be counted and verified, with the overall winner announced at the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2015 being held on Thursday 5 November at The Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool.

Ruth Connor, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire said, “Those who work in the tourism industry are passionate about Lancashire and deliver quality experiences and customer service excellence to our 63 million visitors every year. This award aims to make public some of the extraordinary accomplishments made by individuals working in the industry today.  This year we have an amazing and diverse group of individuals in our shortlist.

“It is now down to a public to pick their winner and we urge them to get behind the finalists and vote for their favourite.  We wish all five the best of luck and look forward to naming our Tourism Superstar at the Lancashire Tourism Awards on 5 November.”

The Tourism Superstar finalists are:

John Gillmore – BBC Radio Lancashire Presenter ‘Gilly’

John Gillmore has spent 3 decades on Lancashire’s airwaves, living, loving and breathing our fantastic county and shouting about everything that’s great and good about Lancashire.  His afternoon programme is an out-and-out celebration of the best places, people and businesses the county has to offer. He gives all his guests the same warm welcome and brings out the best in every one, as they tell their individual Lancashire story.  You’ll regularly find him out and about broadcasting from locations across the county, meeting the people and sharing his passion for Lancashire with listeners and visitors from far and wide. Gilly knows Lancashire, he loves Lancashire and he believes in Lancashire.

Tina Midgley – Head Merchandiser Northern Print Distribution, Blackpool

For the last 12 years Tina has been driving around Blackpool and southern Lancashire delivering print and publicity materials for tourism clients, in her little blue van.  Her infectious personality and passion for Blackpool charms visitors, business owners and even parking wardens as she tops-up information supplies at over 100 sites.  Tina is in the resort early, in all weathers, making sure that the venues on Blackpool’s busiest streets have their leaflets well before the visitors appear. She is professional and dedicated to her duties but always has time for visitors, answering questions with a warm and friendly enthusiasm.  Tina plays an essential and ambassadorial role in the on-going success of Blackpool.

Elaine Smith – President of Blackpool Civic Trust & Chair of Friends of Stanley Park & Salisbury Woodland

Elaine moved to Blackpool aged 10 and now, at 80 years old is well and truly part of the fabric of Blackpool’s heritage tourism.  As Chair of the Blackpool Civic Trust she introduced Heritage Open Days, gives presentations on Blackpool all over the country, created a Heritage Trail and introduced the annual Blackpool Civic Trust Awards – to mention just a few of her achievements.

The Trust is now seen as one of the best in the country and much admired by President of Civic Voice Griff Rhys Jones.

Elaine is now President of the Blackpool Civic Trust and Chair of Stanley Park & Salisbury Woodland, Chair of Blackpool Heritage Forum and in 2008 received an MBE for ‘Services to Blackpool’.  She is utterly committed to Blackpool and inspires many others to make a difference.

Joshua Walker – Fire Beater at Queen Street Mill, Burnley

Josh, has one of the most unusual jobs in Lancashire – ‘Fire Beater’ at Queen Street Textile Museum. His job is incredibly important as his stoking of the boiler produces the steam that runs the engine ‘Peace’, which in turn powers the line shaft in the weaving shed in the last surviving steam powered weaving mill in the world! It is a highly-skilled role as one fellow worker explains ‘if the boiler isn’t right, it’s a time bomb waiting to go off.” Josh’s typical morning involves firing up the coal-fired boiler and building up steam in time for opening to the public. On an average day he can shovel up to ¼ ton of coal. In spite of the physical demands of the job, Josh is always happy to see visitors and share the experience of the workings of the boiler room, ensuring every visit a memorable one. His enthusiasm is contagious and young and old are fascinated by his tales of the mill. 

Michael Williams – Managing Director of Winter Gardens, Blackpool

As well as running the hugely successful Winter Gardens, driving its renaissance and securing major show contracts including Mamma Mia! And CATS which have brought significant benefits to the local economy, Michael has masterminded and negotiated the expansion of the Blackpool Dance Festival.

In 2014 Michael signed a deal that would see the very first overseas Blackpool Dance Festival take place in Shanghai, China in 2015.  Blackpool Dance Festival is the world’s first and most famous ballroom dance festival, which first took place in 1920 and in 2015 was the largest to date. The event in China will further enhance Blackpool’s position as the number one dance festival in the world.   Michael’s astute leadership of the Winter Gardens and his passion for the Blackpool Dance Festival will see Blackpool, Lancashire reach a potential 50 million registered ballroom dancers in China. 

Following the public vote the top three will be invited to attend the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2015 being held on Thursday 5 November at The Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool where the ultimate winner will be announced. For more information and to view the list of this year’s finalists go to or follow #LTA15 on Twitter.

Please vote for your favourite from the list of five finalists at before Sunday 18 October. 

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