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South Devon Railway gains ten top awards in one year!

The scenic South Devon Railway (SDR) has really hit the awards jackpot with some style in 2016 by carrying off no fewer than nine top tourism and leisure awards during the year, and is also a shortlisted finalist for two more top regional and national awards to be announced in early 2017, bringing the tally to eleven prestigious bouquets!

                   Winning such a broad range of both regional and national awards is not only an impressive achievement for the largely volunteer-run line, but also a record haul for the seven-mile, quintessential former GWR heritage steam railway running between Buckfasteigh and Totnes. The SDR’s previous record haul was seven awards in 2014.

          And the SDR’s latest ‘gong’ announced this week (Thur 15 December) is a national ‘Interpretation’ award from the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) and Heritage Railway magazine for the line’s Totnes station. Created from a green-field site over 35 years using recovered former, mainly GWR, railway buildings and structures from around the rail network, the SDR’s Totnes Riverside station now looks like it has always been there in the Devon countryside following the completion of the signal box which once controlled trains in Birmingham before coming to its new home.

         With so many independent awards now won by the SDR in just one season, staff, volunteers and supporters of the heritage railway are naturally delighted by the impressive haul for the charity which is now well on the way to carrying its three millionth passenger.                                  

The nine awards gained by the SDR so far during 2016, plus the two shortlisted finalist awards for 2016/7, are as follows:

Winner of the ‘Best Tourism or Hospitality Business’ in the Western Morning News 2016 Business Awards;
Gold in the ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ in the 2016 Herald Express sponsored English Riviera & South Devon Tourism & Hospitality Awards;
Silver in the ‘Best Tourism Experience/Activity’ in the 2016 Herald Express sponsored English Riviera & South Devon Tourism & Hospitality Awards for the SDR’s Dining Train;
Silver for the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in the 2016 Devon Tourism Awards;
Bronze in the ‘Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience’ category for the SDR’s ‘Drive a Train’ in the 2016 Devon Tourism Awards;
Outstanding in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) ‘Britain in Bloom - It's Your Neighbourhood’ awards 2016;
Gold in the RHS’ ‘Business Leisure & Tourism awards’ 2016;
‘Certificate of Excellence’ from Trip Advisor 2016;
Shortlisted finalist (Gold, Silver or Bronze award) in the 2016/17 ‘South West Tourism Excellence’ awards;
Nominated for ‘Large Visitor Attraction’ in the 2016/17 national ‘Visit England’ Awards.  
Winner of the 2016 HRA and Heritage Railway magazine ‘Interpretation’ award for the SDR’s Totnes station.

SDR Trust PR & Business Development Manager Dick Wood, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA), comments: “Being in the running for a number of ‘Blue Riband’ awards this year has seen us line up against many of our local tourism industry peers, and with some terrific competition from other leading attractions around the country.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but the South Devon Railway is now recognised as being a Premier League attraction!        

“Winning the Heritage Railway Association and Heritage Railway magazine ‘Interpretation award has been the icing on the cake for us this year - It's a prestigious and welcome bouquet, and a great achievement for a largely volunteer run organisation, so we must be doing something right!

“And, we have one more guaranteed award to come in the 2016/17South West Tourism Excellence awards next February, and then hopefully another in the Visit England awards too in April 2017. Bring it on!”

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 been shortlisted in some of these prestigious competitions.

“These awards reflect the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of all volunteers and staff throughout 2016, many of whom do far more than is expected of them in helping to run the railway and our constituent businesses.

“It gives us heightened confidence that we are running a good visitor attraction and operate a sound business. On top of that, we have enjoyed a good season too and expect to break through the 100,000 visitor mark again in 2017 - a record year in so many ways."

South Devon Railway Trust Chairman Barry Cogar adds:

“This latest prestigious award from the Heritage Railway Association and Heritage Railway magazine for Totnes is a fantastic achievement for the South Devon Railway.

"It's a terrific reward for all our loyal staff, dedicated volunteers and supporters, but especially all those people who made Totnes (Riverside) station into what it is today from the muddy, greenfield site I remember well from the 1980's, some of whom are sadly no longer with us, so it's a lasting monument to them too.                       

"It has been very rewarding creating Totnes (Riverside) with its fascinating collection of buildings and artefacts gathered over many years from all over the old Great Western Railway.

 “The credit goes to our volunteers and employees who all make the South Devon Railway what it is today, and it's well deserved recognition for our growing business which is at the heart of the region's economy."



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