Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards are rightly recognised as one of the best and most prestigious of such ceremonies in the tourism calendar. This year’s high profile event, held at the Leeds first direct arena, certainly lived up to its reputation. eviivo were proud to again be sponsoring the B&B and Guest Accommodation of the Year award and keeping our fingers crossed for the many of our properties nominated.
Across the categories, five of the finalists already work with eviivo. Among the B&Bs there was No21 York (a LateRooms Hidden Gem award winner) and The Wold Cottage in Driffileld, last year’s White Rose winner. Then, in the Small Hotel category The Mayfield in Seamer, near Scarborough was in the running and The Carpenters Arms near Thirsk was nominated in the Restaurant with Rooms category. Finally, The Chequers Inn, in Bilton in Ainsty, between York and Wetherby, was hoping to win Yorkshire Pub of the Year after recently being crowned Best Wine Pub in the Great British Pub awards in September.
Almost 1,000 guests enjoyed a fantastic menu of Yorkshire fare (unsurprisingly, given that Yorkshire has more Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere in the UK outside London). All of it was delicious, but for me the rhubarb ice cream with parkin crumb took the biscuit. Attendees rubbed shoulders with a whole host of stars from the world of sport and entertainment. Alongside the championship winning Leeds Rhinos rugby team and Yorkshire County cricket team was veteran commentator Dickie Bird. Up on stage too was Nile Wilson, Leeds-born member of the British gymnastics team, who held aloft the silver medal won at the World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow in October.
The face that got most people (and not just the female guests!) reaching for their camera phones was Gary Barlow. The former Take That singer is, with Tim Firth, co-writer of ‘ The Girls’, a new musical about the group of Yorkshire ladies who posed naked for their WI calendar in 1999. Gary, who’s from Cheshire, and Tim were both made honorary Yorkshiremen by Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. They were joined onstage by the original Calendar Girls themselves, now the inspiration for both a musical and a film.
The atmosphere throughout the event was enthusiastic and welcoming and a great many people stayed after the awards ceremony itself had finished to enjoy live music and dancing. The whole event was very professionally run and it was a pleasure to be involved in the awards again and show eviivo’s support for independent hotels, B&Bs and the regional tourism organisations that help bring visitors to their areas.
My only disappointment was that the picture of me presenting the B&B award to winners Low Mill Guesthouse in Bainbridge was pushed off the front page of the next day’s Yorkshire Post by one of Gary Barlow!