A WILDLIFE park worker who delivers amusing talks about penguins has been named the 2014 Oxfordshire Cotswolds Tourism Superstar.
Chris Green, 31, a bird keeper at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, near Burford, was chosen in an online poll from a shortlist of five people nominated by their employers, with 857 votes cast.
The competition is organised by West Oxfordshire District Council’s tourism team, and supported by VisitEngland and our sister paper, the Witney Gazette. It was held for the first time last year.
Mr Green, of Bradwell Grove, received the award at the annual Oxfordshire Cotswolds tourism networking event held at Eynsham Hall, in North Leigh, on Tuesday last week.
He said: “I’m stoked and very happy with the award – it was a complete surprise to win.
“All the names would have been worthy winners. It’s very good for the area to have so many great people nominated.”
Mr Green gives animated and humorous talks about the penguins at Cotswolds Wildlife Park, where he has worked for seven years.
His colleague Anna Fletcher nominated him for the award.
She said: “His talks amuse, delight and inform the public about the park’s Humboldt penguins and their plight in the wild.
“He’s often asked questions after the talk by the public and is always happy to help. He’s always there with a smile, happy to chat to them.”
Richard Langridge, the district council’s cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “We were searching for an individual who is passionate about our district and goes above and beyond to make the visitor experience that little bit more special.
From left, Catherine Marray, of the Macdonald Bear Hotel, Woodstock; Ingrid Allen, of Cogges Manor Farm, Witney; Reza Kezami, of Blenheim Palace; Chris Green; James Berresford, of VisitEngland; and Karen Flynn, of the Oxford Witney Four Pillars Hotel
“With his welcoming, friendly personality, obvious love of penguins and animals in general, and commitment to ensuring everyone enjoys his talks, Chris embodies a tourism superstar.
“This award gives him the recognition he deserves and we congratulate him.”
The council’s tourism services manager, Hayley Beer, said 4.2 million tourists spend £270m in the district each year.
She said: “We’re fortunate to have a very diverse picture in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds.
“As a council, we value the importance of the tourism economy and think it will be a real growth sector moving forward.”
James Berresford, the chief executive of Visit England, presented Mr Green with the award.
He said: “The awards are a terrific example of the district coming together at local level to celebrate brilliant innovation and customer care of the highest standard.
“I congratulate Chris Green on this tremendous achievement.”
The other nominees for the award were Catherine Marray, of Woodstock’s Macdonald Bear Hotel; Reza Kezami, of Blenheim Palace; Ingrid Allen, a volunteer at Cogges Manor Farm museum in Witney, and Karen Flynn, head housekeeper at the Oxford Witney Four Pillars Hotel.
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