Apprentice is region’s superstar

Matthew Henderson, a live events and promotions apprentice at Beamish Museum, has been named County Durham’s first Tourism Superstar.

Matthew scooped the inaugural award, created to showcase the best in customer service on offer to visitors to County Durham, from a ten-strong shortlist in a public telephone poll which received nearly 1,000 votes.

The 19-year-old, from Witton-le-Wear, near Bishop Auckland, said: “It’s unreal. I’m overwhelmed.

“I was very surprised even to be shortlisted. Beamish has done lots for me, so it’s a nice thank you for them.”

Matthew started helping out at the museum three years ago and studies on an apprenticeship with Gateshead College.

Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of Visit County Durham, congratulated all the finalists.

“The calibre of nominations was extremely high and they are all wonderful ambassadors for the county.

“It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the people on the frontline of the visitor experience here in Durham and who help make it such a superb destination.”

Matthew was also congratulated by James Berresford, chief executive of Visit England.

“Matthew’s success outlines the importance of apprenticeships within the tourism industry and the opportunities there are for young people to join an exciting industry,” he said.

Matthew will now compete in Visit England’s National Tourism Superstar contest.

The County Durham’s Tourism Superstar award was run by Visit County Durham, in association with Visit England and The Northern Echo.