Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards 2015: Nominations

Meet the stars who are up for a Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Award.

Monday, 25th May 2015, 8:00 am
Simon Cotton, Alan Souter and David Ritson prepare for the 35,000 bottle per day production at the Harrogate Water Brands base

The awards, now in their seventh year, are organised and hosted by Destination Harrogate, the association of the leading hotels of the town.

David Ritson, Chair of Destination Harrogate, said: “Seven years in to running these awards it is clear from the number of entries we received again this year, that these awards have truly captured the imagination of those working in, or affected by hospitality and tourism, and shows what a major industry it is for the town.

“As the quality of the votes improves we have been keen to go and see these ‘stars’ in action and it is great to see their faces when they realise their hard work has been appreciated.”

Simon Cotton, General Manager, Cedar Court Hotel and Vice Chair of Destination Harrogate commented: “The judges were once again impressed by the level and quality of entries this year and it took a lot of deliberating to decide who would make the short list.

“There were a lot of categories where it was really hard to have to leave out some really fantastic entries and I only hope that those who haven’t made it this year to the short list will try again next year.”

The winners will be announced at a spectacular gala dinner taking place at the Royal Hall on June 1.

Waiter/Waitress of the year, sponsored by Harrogate Spring Water

Simon Cotton, Alan Souter and David Ritson prepare for the 35,000 bottle per day production at the Harrogate Water Brands base

Clare Wainwright - Restaurant, Bar & Grill

Clare ‘lives, breathes and sleeps customer service’ and her ‘spark and enthusiasm’ make her a ‘joy to be around’. Clare is hands on and ‘greets everyone with her winning smile’ – will that be enough to make her a winner of these awards? – Her supporters obviously think so.

Becky Colley - The Drum & Monkey

Working for one of Harrogate’s most iconic and well known restaurants Becky is praised by many of her happy guests both young and old who appreciate her charming manner and mature outlook. She has been at the ‘Drum’ for ten years and Becky provides ‘attentive service and attention to detail, the experience wouldn’t be the same without her, a true credit to hospitality!’

Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards 2015

Lisa Tait - The Pit

Lisa is ‘always smiling and goes above and beyond for her customers’. Her colleagues and nominations praise her efforts, they are ‘proud’ to know her and state ‘she delivers such high standards each and every time’. Lisa is born and bred in Harrogate and supporters say ‘she has a heart of gold, thinks of others before herself, is totally amazing and one of a kind!’ – go girl!!

Helen Mariner - Guy Fawkes

Praised by her guests as ‘the waitress par excellence’ and ‘a model of efficiency; an obvious asset to the Guy Fawkes’ Helen has received great comments. She always ‘goes the extra mile’, is ‘patient, kind and caring’ with a ‘lovely smile and time for a chat even when she is busy and under pressure’. Helen is one of our industries ‘bright sparks’ Get it? Guy Fawkes…. anyway well done Helen, amazing!

Jessica Faigowski - Baltzersen’s Cafe

Jessica has a proven passion for what she does and continues to provide excellent customer service; ‘her ability to remember her regular’s choices’ is praised by her guests. She ‘goes out of her way to help; even designing a vegan sandwich’ for one guest. Provides ‘ amazing service all year’ – wow a true star!

Bar Person of the Year, sponsored by Matthew Clark

Edi Smith - Monteys Rock Cafe

A legend at Monteys with over 10 years’ service the judges noted comments about Edi’s talent, great personality and attention to details shone through his nominations. Customers liked his ‘ability to engage with you, feeling like you are his only customer and providing a great drink – usually with some witty banter’!

Neil Young - Holiday Inn

With 21 years of service Neil still ‘wows his guests’ with ‘real Yorkshire charm and hospitality without compromise on professionalism’. He is described as ‘extremely efficient and a superb ambassador for the hotel – nothing is too much trouble’ His customers think he is great and despite being a Leeds football fan –eek sorry?!- Neil is also much appreciated by Nicolas, his boss!

Daniel Howard - The Coach & Horses

A legend of the local and a past winner of this title Daniel is praised for creating an ‘excellent atmosphere in the pub, hosting a quiz every other Sunday with a good witty, sense of humour; coming up with good one liners, as well as some rubbish ones!’ Hey ho Dan you can’t win them all….or can you?

Cathy Bonner - The Den

With her ‘amazing smile and great service’ Cathy’s customers say she is the main reason they choose to drink at the Den. A ‘tireless, total professional’ with ‘a wonderful personality’ Cathy is ‘very passionate & customer focused’ and her fans think she should win – but what about the judges?!

Matthew Sewell - Viper Rooms

Matthew works in one of Harrogate’s best known night spots and his speedy, efficient service was recognised by many voters. ‘ Awesome’, ‘great personality’, ‘a cocktail connoisseur’ and ‘funny and fantastic in every way’ – what can I add? Go Matt!

Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sykes House Farm

Murray Wilson - Norse

A nominee with tremendous self-belief and with many followers who back up his cooking skills in a ‘quirky Scandinavian inspired concept’! The nominations included rave reviews; ‘the most inventive, innovative, delicious and culinary challenging food I have ever eaten’ – As well as trending at No.1 spot on Tripadvisor Restaurants in Harrogate, Murray has also received a ‘superb’ review from food critic Jay Rayner.

Tom Van Zeller - Van Zellers Restaurant

Mr Van Zeller is a legend in town, a chef who has stood as the benchmark for ‘consistently delivering excellence’ for many years. Tom is renowned for his quest for food quality, flair and producing ‘stunning food’ and over the years has helped put Harrogate on the map as a culinary experience. He is a ‘true star’ and who knows maybe he will get another type of star very soon??......

Dean Sowden - Deanos Graze and Grill

Dining at Deano’s is always a culinary experience with local produce showcased in a creative and often unexpected way as diners ordering his Black Pudding Sundae may have discovered! One nominee praised Deans ‘creative juices flow(ing) and providing something new to try on every visit’ creating sharing food in small dishes that his guests love. Can the reigning champ retain his title?

Mike Kernall - MK Catering

All strong companies grow and develop over time. MKC is no exception. When husband and wife team Mike and Anna Kernall launched the company in 2002, the mission was to create amazing restaurant quality food for a large number of guests and this is something they have developed and achieved. Mike is praised for his ‘unique and eclectic talent with cultural food and taste fusions’ and his ‘no problems just solutions’ attitude, makes MKC the right choice every time!

Best Achievement of the Year, sponsored by Blueline Taxis

Harrogate International Centre – Sales Growth

Beating targets and competition in a recession, in a tough marketplace creating extra income and with one result; support for financial investment in the HIC facilities – that’s got to be good hasn’t it?! With thousands of guests’ spending money in the local economy it just gets better – from Eurovision to euro success! Go HIC!

Railway Line Supporters Group – Harrogate Trains service improvement

Campaigning for improvements in both local and national train services has paid off spectacularly with direct return services to London and support for electrification, Harrogate will reap the awards for many years to come – an outstanding achievement – toot, toot!

Jenny Sutton, Crown hotel – Sales Growth

In her two years at the Crown hotel Jenny has proven to be a superb individual in the events team. She is passionate about her work and builds strong lasting relationships with her guests who commend her regularly for her efforts. In 2014 Jenny achieved record numbers in the history of the hotel with its highest ever turnover for food and beverage – will she take the ‘crown’?!

The Spotty House

‘Enough said really, everyone knows what the Spotty House is – thanks to the tireless work of owners Tony and Lori Handley and the whole TDF team it was the star of Knaresborough’s Grand Depart! It in no small part led to Knaresborough being named the best dressed town in Yorkshire, seen by millions on TV locally, nationally and internationally, as far as Australia – wow – dare I say it ‘knocks spots off the others’?!!

Harrogate International Festival – Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival

Who dunnit? Harrogate International Festival that’s who! Led by its Chief Executive Sharon Canavar the team at the festival annually produce the world’s finest crime fiction festival to the benefit of not only those who attend this amazing event but also to the local economy. From small beginnings in 2003; in 2014 the festival sold over 13,000 tickets over 4 days with 80% of the audience travelling form outside Yorkshire and also secured the only UK appearance of JK Rowling - Mrs Harry Potter!

Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by Harrogate College

West Park Hotel

How can we possibly summarise soooooo many nominations in one paragraph!! This fantastic hotel even created its own voting form! The nominations all mentioned the fantastic, consistent levels of customer service, food, drink, hospitality and standards West Park has delivered – a great addition to the Harrogatey hotel scene! {Alex; Pronounced Harrowgartie}


‘Carluccios Harrogate are fab’ say their supporters! Guests are made to feel welcome and comfortable by the great team who ‘offer recommendations, explain the dishes and show genuine interest in you as a person’ Once you have been made to feel like ‘part of the family’ the team are on hand to serve – Buon Appetito!

Major Toms

Want something interesting and different? Want something new that isn’t? Voters reckon that Major Toms is for you then! Promoting a wider style of ‘craft’ drinks than your average bar with quirky service & ambience, film nights, live music and exhibitions why not give it a try?! They’ve even got a space invader game – remember them?!


With ‘cutting edge Nordic cuisine’ and described as ‘a breath of fresh air for Harrogate’ Norse spawns from the Baltzersens café by day. By night it provides a ‘fantastic dining experience’ with unique food and brings people from far and wide to sample the amazing gjestfrihet – ‘ospitality in Yorkshire!

Unsung Hero, Sponsored by Destination Harrogate

John Wrightson - Bilton Working Mens Club

In a difficult trading environment for clubs, one man waged a battle to save his beloved part of the Bilton Community. John worked tirelessly, winning awards along the way and now Bilton is one of the most successful clubs in Yorkshire. He’s a great ‘working man’!

Iain Kilpatrick - Hotel Du Vin

A general assistant at the Hotel Du Vin Iain’s duties include maintenance, decorating, portering, housekeeping, bar and restaurant work - nothing is too much trouble. This was put to test when he dealt with a near tragic situation involving a colleague who collapsed having suffered a heart attack at work. Iain’s quick thinking and unflustered action ensured he administered lifesaving first aid! Wow - Truly beyond the call of duty!

Natalie Lancosova - Cedar Court Hotel

Natalie has worked at the hotel for over 10 years and is a true stalwart of the team. As a receptionist she is the first and last point of contact for guests, all of whom are impressed by her lively, friendly and personal service – phew, finally a reward for her hard work!

Colin Ward - Knaresborough Tourist Information Centre

A true pro of the TIC circuit, Colin has worked at Harrogate TIC prior to his current role and is recognised as delivering ‘first class service’ by visitors to the areas. In 2014 he contributed to the local ‘Tour’ effort quietly, enthusiastically and delivering a high quality, individual service. He is also friends with the Mayor of Knaresborough don’t you know!

Elaine Long - Grants hotel

Even though she doesn’t look old enough Elaine has over 30 years’ service at Grants – wow! In that time she has worked in every department even a very short spell in the kitchen sink – don’t ask?!! A real ambassador for the hotel industry she is now Head Housekeeper and works diligently to shine in her job!

Team of the Year, sponsored by Platinum Print

Christmas Lights

When were you last asked ‘How big is your bauble?’ - Recently I bet and probably by one of the small group of committed people who work tirelessly to ensure we have an amazing set of festive decorations lighting the town at Christmas. From near disaster in 2008 when we nearly had no lights John Fox, the then Mayor, has led fund raising, marketing, events and promoting local trade to achieve a better display year after year - a true light bulb moment!

Stockeld Park

Want to know the ingredients of a successful team? – supporters reckon it’s great people, with vision, passion, hard work, creativity and continuity and how can we disagree! The team works closely with all the local stakeholders and has transformed the business in recent years, constantly innovating and developing to deliver an interactive day out and impress their guests – all 100,000 of them each year!

Yorkshire Meatball Company

Not many places can be described as having ‘amazing balls’ but of course it’s perfect for the YMC! Another year on and 23,000 customers later the ‘one team’ continue to deliver ‘amazing experiences’ and their brand, ‘no nonsense fun with wit, character, honesty and passion; true Yorkshire values’!

Harrogate International Festivals

Approaching its 50th year – no mean feat for a small arts organisation – HIF continue to deliver exceptional events , ‘international excellence and innovation to the region’ and is a ‘key cultural provider for Yorkshire throughout the year’. All delivered by a small, but perfectly formed committed team!

Outstanding Customer Service , sponsored by Leeds Bradford Int. Airport

Louise Garbutt - Queens Head, Kettlesing

Louise is described by her fans as ‘the perfect hostess and landlady’. With over 20 years’ service she works from dawn to dusk some times, always professional and treats her customers as VIPs. Her efforts are much appreciated by everyone and she recognises them with a smile and greets her regulars with their favourite drink!

Bob Marcroft - Turkish Baths

‘Famous’ among the Trip Advisor reviewers for the ‘Baths’, Bob always gets great feedback from guests both ‘funny and informative’. He always goes the ‘extra mile’ and all his voters agree Bob deserves his moment, let’s hope he doesn’t get too hot under the collar?! – a true star!

Katie Jo Freer - Yorkshire hotel

Working in the events department Katie Jo is described in one nomination as a ‘little ray of sunshine’ – ahh! She strives to deliver exceptional service for her customers and her colleagues believe she is a ‘great asset to the hotel, Harrogate, hotel owning company, and the world’!! Go Katie Jo!

Vania Azevedo - Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

Vania always goes the extra mile and is first to offer help in any situation. In true Rudding Park style she delivers a really personal level of service, looking for the opportunity to please. Her ‘friendly smile’ and infectious ‘positive attitude’ ensures guests return time after time.

Gareth Vowles - The Pit

A veteran of these awards across numerous categories Gareth has a great pedigree- described as ‘a credit to Harrogate hospitality’- must have been his Mum! He achieves that difficult skill of delivering genuinely great service and trains his colleagues in the same manner; known as ‘Chicken’ you’ll have to catch him to ask why!!