Matlock Farm Park’s George Finlay is celebrating after being announced as VisitEngland’s 2022 Tourism Superstar.
22-year-old farm supervisor George saw off tough competition from nine other finalists across England to be crowned the winner, receiving 29% of the public vote and becoming the competition’s youngest winner to date.
The Tourism Superstar award was launched by national tourism agency VisitEngland and The Mirror 10 years ago to recognise the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry.
George was nominated for his enthusiasm, passion, knowledge and dedication – attributes that win him regular praise in visitor reviews. His responsibilities include looking after the health and welfare of animals, interacting with visitors and running informative animal-based activities such as wallaby encounters and meerkat talks.
George is particularly passionate about the mental health benefits of animals and when Matlock Farm Park was closed during Covid restrictions, he was the driving force behind the creation of weekly Facebook Live broadcasts to entertain visitors with uplifting content.
In addition, George actively seeks to encourage younger visitors to have a love for animals and with his beaming smile and friendly approach, he goes out of his way to ensure people of all ages and abilities have a memorable day.
The announcement comes after George won Silver in the Tourism Young Achiever category at the Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards earlier this month.
Reacting to news of his win, George said: “I am over the moon to have won the VisitEngland Tourism Superstar award. I feel so lucky to work in a job where I can share my passion for animals with visitors of all ages and winning this national award, which is voted for by members of the public, is a huge honour.
“The Peak District and Derbyshire is an incredible destination, with so much to offer visitors, and I’m delighted that I get to play a small role in helping people to have memorable experiences. Thank you to everyone who voted!”
Jo Dilley, Managing Director of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, said: “At just 22 years old, George is a fantastic ambassador for our vibrant tourism sector and we’re delighted to see him win this prestigious national award.
“George embodies all that is great about working in the Peak District and Derbyshire’s tourism industry – he is friendly, helpful and engages with people of all ages with a view to making their trip special. A huge well done to George and thank you to everyone who voted.”
Andrew Stokes, Director of VisitEngland, said: “Tourism Superstar recognises the people who go the extra mile to create standout visitor experiences, and each finalist has gone above and beyond for tourists. George has clinched the title thanks to his tireless work in ensuring visitors to Matlock Farm Park gave the best time whilst making sure the animals have all they need.
“During Covid, he also extended the healing reach of the animals into people’s homes with his live streams, from lambing to feeding, supporting people to feel connected. Many thanks to all our finalists and to everyone who took the time to take part in the voting.”
Matlock Farm Park and Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire support the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.