Former apprentice is nation's Tourism Superstar

A former apprentice has won the votes of the people to be named the nation’s “Tourism Superstar” by VisitEngland.

Matthew Henderson, who completed a live events and promotions apprenticeship with Gateshead College at Beamish, was named the country’s unsung holiday hero after polling more than a third of the public votes earlier in the year.

The 20-year-old from Witton-le-Wear in County Durham  joined other North East winners including luxury hotel, Matfen Hall and The World of James Herriot in his award for tourism at a glitzy ceremony at the Sage Gateshead.

“I honestly cannot believe it,” said the engagement and participation team assistant, who started work at Beamish on a six week placement from Gateshead College before being offered a two year apprenticeship.  Following completion of his apprenticeship, he is now a permanent member of the team at Beamish.

“I love working at Beamish and have learned so much from the Beamish team who all work hard to ensure everybody who visits has the best day out possible - so winning this award is a credit to them too.

“The support from everyone has been amazing but I never expected to win.

“I am so grateful to everyone who voted - thank you so much, it’s unbelievable.”

According to VisitEngland tourism is a growing industry in the North East, with it now the fourth largest part of the region’s economy, generating £3.6bn a year, accounting for 10% of all businesses in Newcastle and Gateshead, and supporting 54,000 jobs - figures only likely to increase further with the Rugby World Cup, which is set to visit Newcastle United’s St James’ Park for three matches in September. Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport and Gateshead International Stadium will act as Team Base for Samoa and South Africa.

Celyn Williams, people development officer at Beamish Museum, said: “Matthew has become a key member of our team thanks to the skills and work experience gained on his apprenticeship.

“We have seen him grow and develop whilst providing us with fantastic support on a variety of projects throughout his training programme. He has come a long way and we look forward to continuing to work with him throughout his new career here.”

Matthew added: “The best thing about apprenticeships is that you learn practical work skills whilst earning too.

“My apprenticeship proves that training schemes like this aren’t exclusive to certain sectors, and that so many opportunities for young people to enter a career they enjoy are now available.”

He studied a Level 3 live events and promotions apprenticeship and has since excelled at a number of tasks during his career, including events management, community engagement and marketing.

To find out more about our current apprenticeship opportunities click here.