Staffordshire’s finest revealed as finalists

Congratulations are in order for a trio of successes in Staffordshire following the announcement of finalists for the annual VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

The awards recognise the very best in the tourism industry; Staffordshire’s finalists include Keele University Conferences & Events for the Business Tourism Award, The Trentham Estate for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year and Colton House, in Rugeley, for Sustainable Tourism Award.

Finalists of the prestigious accolades will be rigorously assessed over the coming weeks by independent assessors and judged by a board of tourism industry experts. Winners will then be invited to the award ceremony at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday 12th May.

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Each finalist will receive Gold, Silver, Bronze or Highly Commended in their category.

Right here in Staffordshire we have three examples of the best in English tourism and GOOD LUCK for the awards ceremony in May!

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Picture gallery: Staffordshire Good Food Awards

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Taste of Staffordshire Good Food Awards 2014

Following the glitz and glam of Monday’s gala dinner and awards ceremony esteemed food and drink businesses from across Staffordshire are celebrating success.

At the Taste of Staffordshire Good Food Awards we recognise Staffordshire’s finest, from restaurants to pubs, brasseries to tea-rooms, visitor attractions to local food producers. Quality is key and all establishments must demonstrate excellence and most importantly use of local produce.

The awards ceremony at Keele Hall, Keele University saw more than 200 guests turn up. Sarah Willingham, the Taste of Staffordshire Patron, opened the evening whilst newly appointed Ambassador Louis Barnett (rushed up from London after appearing on BBC Breakfast) closed the night with a fantastic speech.

So after a fantastic night we would like to say a big thank you to all those involved in providing Staffordshire with an envious selection of high quality food and drink establishments and to all those who helped organise such an enjoyable evening.

Here are our winners:

NFU Award: Local Food Champion 2014

1st – Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe, Uttoxeter

Runner Up – Packington Moor Shop & Cafe, Lichfield

Service Science Award for Outstanding Personal Service

Colette Malbon – Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Café, Uttoxeter

Local Food Producer of the Year – Grower

1st  – Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Café, Uttoxeter

Runner Up – Buzzard Valley Wines, Vineyard & Fisheries, Tamworth

Local Food Producer of the Year – Manufacturer

 1st  – Essington Fruit Farm – Country Kitchen, Essington, Wolverhampton

Runner Up – Peter Coates Alrewas Ltd, Alrewas

Local Food Retailer of the Year – Farm Shop

1st  – Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Café, Uttoxeter

Runner Up – Canalside Farm, Great Haywood

Local Food Retailer of the Year – Other Retail

1st  – Brown and Green, Trentham Shopping Village

Runner Up – The Granary Farm Shop, Weston Park

Tea Room/Coffee Shop of the Year

1st  – Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Café, Uttoxeter

Runner Up – Essington Fruit Farm – Country Kitchen, Essington, Wolverhampton

Traditional Pub / Inn of the Year

1st  – The Middle Bell Pub, Barton-under-Needwood

Runner Up – Three Horseshoes Inn & Restaurant, Leek

Brasserie / Contemporary Pub / Bar of the Year

1st  – Netherstowe House, Lichfield

Runner Up – The Swan with Two Necks, Blackbrook, Newcastle

Fine Dining

1st  – Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield

Runner Up – Cullens Restaurant, Stone

Best Breakfast Award

1st  – The Moat House, Acton Trussell

Runner Up – Colton House, Rugeley

Visitor Attraction of the Year

1st  – Wedgwood Visitor Restaurant, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent

Runner Up – The Hollybush Coffee Shop & Restaurant, Wolverhampton

Restaurant of the Year sponsored by Churchill China

1st  – The Posthouse, Stafford

Runner Up – The Terrace Restaurant, Keele Hall, Keele

Special Awards for

Enthusiasm & Innovation – Misco’s Chocolates, Leek

Happiest Atmosphere – The Apple Tree Coffee Shop & Deli, Barton Marina

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Staffordshire’s Start of Season Stunt Seeks Robbie Replicas

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The start of season for Staffordshire’s top attractions is rapidly approaching. With everything from adrenalin-pumping rides, walks on the wild side and discoveries into the county’s rich cultural heritage, there is much to look forward to in 2014.

As if that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, Enjoy Staffordshire and the Alton Towers Resort have come together to host a stunt marking the start of the season and Robbie Williams’ 40th birthday.

During the resort’s opening week, they are challenging namesakes and look-a-likes of the singing sensation to ride The Smiler, the worlds’ first 14-looping roller coaster on Friday 28th March.

Graeme Whitehead, Destination Staffordshire’s tourism manager, said: “The top attractions in our county are a big driving force behind visitors and what better way to celebrate the opening day than by paying homage to our very own global superstar Robbie Williams, who is an icon to the county and country.”

So are you a Robbie Williams doppelganger or do you share his name? If so, why not take up the challenge and be in with a chance of winning one of five Thrill Hopper tickets, worth £60 each, but most importantly say a big ‘Happy Birthday’ to the man himself.

If you fit the bill, we’d love you hear from you so please email enjoystaffordshire@seal.uk.com or contact Enjoy Staffs on Facebook or Twitter.

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Put a Staffordshire Spring in your Step

Spring is in the air and following a sunny weekend the beautiful British countryside is beginning to flourish.

So what better way to enjoy Staffordshire than by ambling on a spring walk and admiring the stunning displays of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils. In the office we have put our heads together and chosen our favorite spring trails around the county.

Sunday 16th March will be your last chance to explore Rode Hall’s Snowdrop Walks. The 19th century grounds are awash with more than 50 varieties of snowdrops. Take the mile long ‘Old Wood’ walk to see the displays and witness the first sprigs and saplings.

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The Snowdrops at Rode Hall

At the National Memorial Arboretum, and taking place every Monday from 2:30pm, the ‘healthy walk’ is a chance to enjoy the surrounding countryside and the carpets of crocuses – the first flower of spring – along the Yeomanry Avenue. The walks last about 45 minutes to an hour and are the perfect length for all to enjoy.

The Shugborough Estate has a number of guided walks planned until Sunday 16th March, offering visitors the chance to amble around its beautiful grounds and parkland, with a tasty light lunch included. Take a look at the daffodils and take in the first signs of spring in style.  

Visit the Churnet Valley for a fascinating glimpse of the rocks, minerals and fossils littered across the valley, get up close and personal with the local geology and have a go at a geotrail. The trail is 25km long and can be completed in sections starting from Froghall Wharf, Oakamoor, Rambler’s Retreat, Hawksmoor Nature Reserve and Highshutt. There are also plenty of decent pubs to make a stop off at too.

If you take any pictures during your walks, we’d love to see them. Upload on to our Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #staffssnaps

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We are searching for Robbie replicas

To celebrate Robbie Williams’ birthday, we are on the hunt for replicas of the Sing When You’re Winning superstar.

Lookalikes and namesakes of the singing sensation are being asked to put themselves forward to take part in an adrenaline-filled challenge by riding The Smiler, the world’s first 14 looping roller coaster at Alton Towers Resort.

The daring challenge comes as the self-confessed ‘Stokie’ raises a glass to 40 years today, presumably with his Staffordshire knot tattoo firmly on show.

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Graeme Whitehead, Destination Staffordshire’s Tourism Manager said: “Robbie is a global superstar but he’s staunchly proud of his roots in Stoke-on-Trent which is why he’s such an icon in the county. We’d like to wish him a very Happy Birthday and Robbie, if you’re reading this, we’d love you to get involved!”

Throughout the county a number of celebrations are taking place to mark Robbie Williams’ 40th birthday. A musical and art-based ‘Robbie Day’ is taking place at schools across Stoke-on-Trent, tourist trails will showcase the best of the hometown hero’s favourite childhood spots and a three-month exhibition, Portrait of a Potteries Pop Star, will be staged at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery; plus diehard fans might want to look at property on special streets which will be named after Robbie in the summer.

Are you a Robbie Williams doppelganger or do you share his name? If so, take part in the challenge, be in with a chance of winning one of five Thrill Hopper tickets and most importantly say a big Happy Birthday to the man himself. If you fit the bill, we’d love you hear from you. Email enjoystaffordshire@seal.uk.com or contact Enjoy Staffs on Facebook or @EnjoyStaffs on Twitter.

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Love is in the Staffordsh-air

If you’ve bought the flowers and card but are still struggling for inspiration to make this Valentine ’s Day extra special, look no further than Staffordshire for everything you need to make February 14th memorable and St. Valentine proud.

Come and enjoy the tantalising taste experience which awaits you at Swinfen Hall Hotel. Take your date back in time at this 18th-century manor house, where the menu boasts six sumptuous courses followed by coffee and petit-fours.  Add a glass of champagne on arrival and the scene is set for an extraordinary evening of fine food and romance. Set in 100 acres of rolling parkland including a 45-acre deer park, this is the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day.

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Escape the stresses of daily life at one of the county’s stately homes, Weston Park. Arrive in style and be treated to tea and cake before exploring the beautiful Capability Brown landscaped pleasure grounds. Later on, indulge in a seasonally inspired Valentine’s menu from Head Chef Guy Day. With stunning bedrooms and a team of butlers and housekeepers to tend to your every whim, make Valentine’s Day unforgettable at Weston Park.

Make the most of a truly memorable package at Moddershall Oaks Country Spa this Friday and Saturday. Say “I love you” whilst sipping a chilled glass of prosecco in 5 star accommodation and listen to a professional pianist playing a baby grand under Swarovski crystal stars. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary evening by booking your place now.  

Perfect for sport lovers, a fantastic his and her break awaits at St. George’s Park, the Football Association’s National Football Centre. Sample the innovative menu made from locally sourced produce whilst tasting a selection of artisan pale ales and looking out on to the hotel’s leafy surroundings. If pale ale isn’t for you, enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco with your Valentine’s Day package! Book your stay for just £249 by calling 01283 576626 with the promotional code #SGPValentine.

Plus, with the National Forest, Alton Towers, Drayton Manor and The National Memorial Arboretum also close by, there’s no chance of getting bored either.

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