At the annual Welcome to Yorkshire, White Rose Awards ceremony at Leeds United’s Headingly Stadium, Yorkshire Air Museum picked up the first of 10 awards won by North Yorkshire organisations.
The French in York festival took place in October last year and was a celebration and commemoration around the 66th anniversary of the 2500 French airmen leaving their base at Elvington at the end of World War ll. The event culminated in a high profile occasion at York Minster with senior diplomats, ministers, politicians and service chiefs from France, Britain and countries across the world. With a Military Parade and fly-past of 17 French and British military aircraft including the Rafale, Typhoon and Lancaster. A memorial was inaugurated for the 51% of French airmen who were killed in action whilst based in York and was attended by 10 French aircrew veterans.
The French in York Festival’s other element was to attract French tourism into the City and the Yorkshire Air Museum co-ordinated a series of 10 other associated events with many businesses and organisations across York and with support from across UK. (City of York Council recently re-connected with its twin City of Dijon as a direct result).
Museum Director, Ian Reed, who accepted the award last night said, “Whilst this event had a very significant commemoration at its centre, there are 60 million French people who live just 19 miles off our shores, yet most think Britain is just London. This was an almost unique opportunity for York to expand its horizons. York should not think of itself as in “The North”. It is geographically based in the Centre of Britain – and we are proud of I!” he said. The event has struck a chord across France and London with recent films and publications still being produced about the event and plans are being considered for a French in York 2 (Tourism & Business) for next year built upon these new foundations.
This year the Yorkshire Air Museum bucked the national trend with an 18% increase in its visitor numbers, which it directly attributes to the publicity surrounding the French in York and its re-launch as a high profile corporate business event location.
Other York-based winners amongst the 89 shortlisted include York Marriott as winner of ”Business Tourism”, the York Maze team for “Outstanding Customer Service”, and Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa for “Large Hotel”. Further afield, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal picked up winner of “Large Visitor Attraction”, with “Small Visitor Attraction” going to Captain Cook Memorial Museum. The Hepworth Wakefield was crowned winner of “Arts & Culture” whilst Northern Ballet was Highly Commended in the same category.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This was another exciting night in the history of Yorkshire tourism. Every winner should be congratulated and these awards give us all the chance to celebrate the creativity, hard work and success of so many tourism businesses.
“Having seen the standard of businesses shortlisted, it seems clear to us that Yorkshire leads where others follow. During the last three years we have seen Yorkshire not only compete on the world stage, but be at the centre of it. And it’s incredible businesses like these which make that possible – that’s why the White Rose Awards plays such a vital role in recognising and celebrating their work.”