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Western Morning News Business Awards 2014
Best Tourism or Hospitality Business Category
Photo © Western Morning News 2014
John Haslam, Chris williams, John Keohane and Dick Wood with the award Photo © 2014

The scenic South Devon Railway (SDR) hit the jackpot last night at the Western Morning News Business Awards (Thursday 20th November) in Exeter by carrying off the prestigious ‘Best Tourism or Hospitality Business’ award.

This was the second top ‘gong’ in just two days for the SDR after it won Bronze in the 2014 Devon Tourism Awards for the “Best Large Visitor Attraction of the Year” category at a special gala awards dinner in North Devon on Wednesday 19 November.

Winning the Western Morning News business award outright has been the railway’s top accolade in 2014.

With seven independent awards now won by the SDR in just one season, staff, volunteers and supporters of the seven-mile, steam operated heritage railway are delighted by the impressive haul that has set a new record year for the charity which also carried its two millionth passenger in June.

SDR Trust Chairman Alan Taylor commented: “Being in the running for a number of ‘Blue Riband’ awards this year has seen us line up against many of our tourism industry peers, with some terrific competition from other leading attractions around the county.”

“Winning the Western Morning News business award for best tourism business has been the icing on the cake for us in what has been a difficult trading season, and gives us heightened confidence that we are running a good visitor attraction and operate a sound business. ”

A delighted SDR Railway Manager, Chris Williams said:
“Winning so many awards in just one year is a very creditable achievement by our whole team, especially as it’s the first time we have entered most of the competitions. These awards reflect the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of all volunteers and staff throughout 2014, many of whom do far more than is expected of them in helping to run the railway and our constituent businesses.”

The railway’s first award in 2014 came in the form of a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in June, followed quickly by a Bronze medal for the railway’s Refreshment Rooms from ‘Taste of the West’ in July.

Next, in September, came an RHS & Britain in Bloom ‘It’s your Neighbourhood’ Level 4 award which described the extensive landscaped gardens at Buckfastleigh as ‘Thriving’ – the first time the SDR had entered the competition.

And then, the SDR won not one, but two more top medal awards in October for the Herald Express (English Riviera & South Devon) Tourism & Hospitality awards with a Silver for the railway in the best visitor attraction category, plus a Bronze for the ‘Taste of South Devon café/tearoom category’.

South Devon Railway PR manager Dick Wood added:
“This latest prestigious Western Morning News business award is a fantastic achievement for the South Devon Railway and oneeveryone connected with the line can feel justifiably proud over.

The credit goes to our volunteers and employees who all make the SDR what it is today, and it’s well deserved recognition for our growing business which is at the heart of the region’s economy.”

And 2014 has also brought some big changes at the SDR with the introduction of e-ticketing for website purchases for selected events, plus the installation of Wi-Fi in the Refreshment Rooms, and a new state-of-the-art ‘bean-to-cup’ coffee machine so that the SDR provides a top quality café service.

The SDR is also getting ready to run its ever popular Santa by Steam trains which operate most weekends in December and during the last week before Christmas.

Early birds can book now by ‘Going on-line‘ Santa trains, or filling in and returning a completed booking form. Further details can be seen at the SDR website

The Expressway model railway and gift shop is already stocking up with Xmas presents for children of all ages, and is open for business every day alongside the SDR’s award-winning Refreshment Rooms.

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© South Devon Railway Association 2014

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