TOURISTS from around the globe flock to Oxfordshire to see its dreaming spires, historic buildings, idyllic countryside and cosy pubs.

Now the people who make their visits an unforgettable experience have had their role recognised in the Beautiful South Awards for Excellence.

Run by Tourism South East, the awards feature 16 categories, each with between three and five finalists, as well as a highly commended title.

Oxford Castle Unlocked team member Tracy Slator was awarded a coveted silver in the “Unsung Hero Award for Customer Service” at the Grand Brighton Hotel last week.

The award is for people who have recognised the importance of welcome and customer service.

The mother-of-two from Headington said she had no idea that she had been nominated until she was told at a staff meeting.

Mrs Slator, 45, added: “It was a complete shell shock for me that I even got nominated.

“It’s a real pleasure working here and I work as part of great team. I was so honoured to win the award.”

Mrs Slator, who works as a tour guide and who also teaches new members of the team, has been working at the castle for more than nine years.

She said: “It’s more than just a job because all the people are so passionate about history.

“And it’s great fun, we get to dress up in a number of different costumes. I act as a gypsy in 1775 which is really good fun.”

Lauren Rhodes, general manager of Oxford Castle Unlocked, said she was thrilled to see Mrs Slator receive the award.

She added: “I started as general manager in September and immediately recognised the enormous contribution Tracy makes at the attraction and how much she enthrals our guests.

“This is a fantastic achievement which sets us on the way to a very successful 10th anniversary year in 2016.”

The 62 finalists across all the categories enjoyed the celebration in Brighton and the winners have been invited to represent the South East at the national Visit England Awards in 2016.

Notable wins included a victory for The Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote, which was crowned Tourism Pub of the Year. The Lamb Inn, Burford won silver in the Small Hotel of the Year category and Abbey Guest House in Abingdon was highly commended in the Access for All award.