DORSET came away with six gold trophies in a region-wide awards ceremony for the tourism industry.

The South West Tourism Excellence Awards saw 123 prizes handed out in front of an audience of 450 at the Riviera Centre, Torquay.

The gongs included two for Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, which was named large attraction of the year and saw its ranger Katie Davies take a gold award for outstanding customer service. She had been saluted for her extra work in helping visitors with autism.

The county’s other gold award winners were:

  • Loose Reins, of Shillingstone, named active and sporting experience of the year. It also won bronze in the glamping and alternative accommodation category.
  • Swanage Tourism Information Centre, visitor information service.
  • All Hallows Farmhouse, Wimborne St Giles, artistic, cultural and learning experience.
  • Taste Cafe, Chesil Beach, cafe/tearoom.

Clare Gronow, team leader at Moors Valley – which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in July – said: “Being named top large attraction in the region is a huge honour and a testament to the hard work of the Moors Valley team. The park is a partnership between East Dorset District Council and the Forestry Commission and is also home to a number of businesses that operate on the site, serving almost a million visitors each year. All of the staff, whoever they work for, should be immensely proud of this achievement.

“I’m especially pleased to congratulate Katie Davies on her customer service award. I have worked closely with Katie for many years and am delighted that her dedication and commitment to our customers has been recognised this way.”

Many of the night’s finalists were also nominated to represent the region in the VisitEngland awards, the finalists for which will be announced in March.

Robin Barker, of coordinator Services for Tourism, opened the event by telling the audience: “We have seen a record 647 entries across the South West, and I’d like to commend you – the South West’s leading tourism businesses – for your vision, investment, hard work and excellence.“You have had the courage to put yourselves forward to be judged, have been through a three-phase judging process, and will all be winners tonight.”

Other local award winners were as follows.

  • BOD Bournemouth: silver, access and inclusivity.
  • Dorset House, Lyme Regis: silver in bed and breakfast.
  • Rockley Park, Poole: silver, holiday park.
  • Town Mill, Lyme Regis: silver, small attraction.
  • Green House Hotel, Bournemouth: silver, small/boutique hotel.
  • Grange, Oborne, West Dorset: silver, small/boutique hotel.
  • Mellulah Therpay & Yoga Retreats, Milton Abbas: silver, spa and wellbeing experience.
  • Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival: silver, event/festival.
  • Acorn Inn, Evershot: silver, tourism pub.
  • Italian Villa at Compton Acres: silver, venue and business tourism.
  • Home Farm House, Wimborne St Giles: bronze, bed and breakfast.
  • Guildhall Tavern, Poole: bronze, restaurant/bistro.
  • Golden Acre Holiday Bungalows, Eypres, West Dorset: bronze, dog friendly business.