Welcome to Yorkshire announce Yorkshire ‘Ambassadors’ programme
to support the region’s recovery.
Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s tourism marketing agency, has today relaunched a Yorkshire Ambassador programme to help support its objectives over the next few years. The Ambassadors, drawn from all areas of Yorkshire, will support a range of different sectors within the wider economy as the region continues its post-Covid recovery.
Led by, Philip Bolson, owner of Mr B Hospitality, and former General Manager of the Grand Hotel in York, Ambassadors will represent all four corners of the county from North, South, East & West Yorkshire to promote the region as a place to Visit, Live, Work & Study. As experts within their field, the group will act as thought leaders in their respective sectors whilst also bringing opportunities to life by representing Welcome to Yorkshire and the county of Yorkshire at events throughout the year to demonstrate support for all that is happening in the region.
The full Ambassador list is not exhaustive but includes the following:
Nicky Chance-Thompson DL - Chief Executive Officer at the Piece Hall Trust
Richard Stubbs - Chief Executive Officer of the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)
Abbi Ollive - Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard
Dr Amir Khan - GP and television presenter
Sharon Watson DL - CEO and Principal at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Hannah Cockroft MBE DL - Paralympian, multiple-winning gold medallist
Paul Vinsen - Hotel & Tourism Advisor at The Hull, Humber & East Yorkshire Hospitality Association
James Mackenzie - Head Chef and Owner of the Michelin starred restaurant Pipe And Glass Inn, near Beverley
Debbie Dobson - Director of Sales at Dakota Hotel in Leeds.
Fiona Gardham - Tourism and hospitality consultant and owner of award-winning Bed and Breakfast The House at Hawes
In addition, Günther Peeters, based in Belgium, will act as a European Ambassador. Having studied at the University of Hull, Mr Peeters describes himself as a “passionate Yorkshire fan” and carries out missionary work in Northern Europe. He is currently Managing Director at Dutch professional football club FC Eindhoven.
James Mason, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, explained the reasoning behind the initiative: “The idea of Yorkshire Ambassadors isn’t a new concept and we still have many people who are associated with Welcome to Yorkshire that act as Ambassadors every day. Furthermore, anyone connected with the county, whether you were born here or live and work here, should always be flying the flag for our region. But after a really difficult few years, we thought it was worth relaunching this initiative with a fresh approach and with people who have played a significant role in supporting both the organisation and county over a very challenging period. Anyone that has been an Ambassador or Patron before should still consider themselves a key figure in our past, present and future. We need all the support we can garner and look forward to seeing them at events later this year.”
Philip Bolson, Chair of the Ambassador group and the driving force behind hospitality business mentor Mr B Hospitality, stated that, “throughout my career, my focus has been on developing high performing teams, building partnerships, being curious, keeping things simple, and ‘getting things done’. I hope to bring this attitude and experience to my role as a Welcome to Yorkshire Ambassador.”
Paul Vinsen, Hotel & Tourism Advisor at The Hull, Humber & East Yorkshire Hospitality Association, declared that he was looking forward to “making a contribution to our industry in which I have been involved all my working life.”
Abbi Ollive, Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard, stated that, “I am hugely passionate about encouraging as many people as possible to experience all that Yorkshire has to offer. Our beautiful region is ideally placed to be the backdrop to the happiest of memories and the more I can contribute to help tourism recover in a post-pandemic world, working with the team of ambassadors, the better!”
Fiona Gardham, owner of The House at Hawes, a luxury B&B in the Yorkshire Dales, said, “there is no greater privilege and pleasure than helping people make memories that last a lifetime from their visit to Yorkshire.”
In addition, the organisation formed a Tourism Recovery Task Group earlier this year chaired by The Piece Hall Trust’s Nicky Chance-Thompson. She added: “Bringing together key figures from both the public and private sector, the group feeds into national agencies and policy makers with regards to the ongoing challenges and opportunities that exist as the region deals with the Coronavirus pandemic. The Ambassador group will play a vital role in amplifying the challenges and opportunities the county faces.”
(l to r):
- Dr Amir Khan - GP and television presenter
- Fiona Gardham - Tourism and hospitality consultant and owner of award-winning Bed and Breakfast The House at Hawes
- Philip Bolson, owner of Mr B Hospitality, and former General Manager of the Grand Hotel in York, Ambassadors will represent all four corners of the county from North, South, East & West Yorkshire to promote the region as a place to Visit, Live, Work & Study. As experts within their field, the group will act as thought leaders in their respective sectors whilst also bringing opportunities to life by representing Welcome to Yorkshire and the county of Yorkshire at events throughout the year to demonstrate support for all that is happening in the region.
- Nicky Chance-Thompson DL - Chief Executive Officer at the Piece Hall Trust
- Debbie Dobson - Director of Sales at Dakota Hotel in Leeds
- Paul Vinsen - Hotel & Tourism Advisor at The Hull, Humber & East Yorkshire Hospitality Association
- Abbi Ollive - Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard
- Welcome to Yorkshire is the official destination management organisation for Yorkshire, working to grow the county’s visitor economy.
- Welcome to Yorkshire is a not-for-profit membership organisation, funded in part by grants, sponsorship and Welcome to Yorkshire members. All money raised is reinvested directly back into promoting Yorkshire.
Key facts include:
- Tourism in Yorkshire pre-pandemic was worth £9 billion annually with the county’s tourism and hospitality industry employing almost 225,000 people
- Tag Welcome to Yorkshire #TourDeWalkshire in any coverage on Twitter and Facebook using our handles
- Welcome to Yorkshire: Global brand reach of over 23m & a social reach of almost 20m.
- Philip Bolson is a hospitality business mentor and coach through his consultancy, Mr B Hospitality, and owner of the White Rose Lodge near York. Philip brings over 30 years of experience in the hospitality sector, having served as a General Manager at Whitbread, UK and Ireland Operations Director for the Wyndham Hotel Group, Group Operations Director for the Splendid Hospitality Hotel Group and General Manager of The Grand Hotel and Spa in York, among other roles.
- Nicky Chance-Thompson DL is Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust. Prior to joining the Piece Hall Trust in 2015 initially as a Trustee, Nicky had a multi-award winning career in marketing, advertising and the media, before moving onto delivering significant and major government infrastructure programmes - specialising in regeneration.
Along with the Board, the team has already established the Piece Hall as an internationally recognised destination that received over 7m visitors in three years prior to the pandemic. Passionate about placemaking, Nicky is a commissioner on the ‘No Place Left Behind’ commission, a Non-Executive Director of Welcome to Yorkshire, chairing its Tourism Recovery Taskforce, and Chair of Leeds Beckett #WECAN, which seeks to enable women in foundational roles to become future leaders.
Nicky was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Yorkshire in 2019 for her work at The Piece Hall Trust. In the same year, she was crowned Yorkshire Businesswoman of the Year and was also awarded a place on the highly regarded Northern Power Women’s Power List. Nicky recently received the IOD Judges Special Award in recognition of her career.
- Abbi Ollive is Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard. Abbi is a born-and-bred Yorkshire woman and has worked in the culture, heritage and tourism sector for the last 15 years. Abbi currently heads up the marketing, sales, programming and events teams at Castle Howard and is on the Board of Welcome to Yorkshire. Abbi spent ten years managing marketing, communications and enterprises at York Theatre Royal and has since been a trustee for children’s international touring theatre company Tutti Frutti Productions.
- Richard Stubbs is Chief Executive Officer of Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). AHSNs sit between the NHS and healthcare to promote technology and innovation which benefits both patients and the NHS. AHSN’s also support industry innovators to develop their products for the health and care market contributing to economic growth both locally, across the Yorkshire & Humber region, and together with other AHSN’s nationally. Richard is also the Vice Chair of the national AHSN Network the collective voice of the 15 AHSNs across England. Richard is passionate about levelling up health inequalities and co-authored the Levelling Up Yorkshire and Humber: Health as the new wealth post-Covid report in 2020. He is a member of Policy Yorkshire’s sport and physical activity group, supporting people to become more active and access sport across the region as part of the regions recovery from the pandemic. He’s also a member of Welcome to Yorkshire’s Tourism Recovery Taskforce. Richard is a private sector board member of the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and a member of their Business Recovery and Growth Board. He is a Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University and Chairs the Strategic Advisory Board of its Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), a £14m research institution established to develop innovations that will improve population health and physical activity. He is also a director of Legacy Park Ltd – the independent organisation which hosts the unique Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park where the AWRC and other leading bodies are based. Richard is also Chair of the steering group for the NHS Confederation’s BAME Leadership Network and a member of the independent Non-Executive Directors taskforce, launched by NHS Confederation to support NHS organisations in increasing the diversity of their boards and governing bodies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Leadership Fellow of St George’s House, Windsor Castle. Richard is also a non-executive director of Maltby Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust of secondary and primary schools across Rotherham. He joined the NHS from the BBC as a graduate trainee.
- Dr Amir Khan is a celebrated TV personality, regularly seen on television sets across our country discussing matters of physical and mental health as a qualified and practicing GP. A proud Yorkshireman and lover of nature and the great outdoors, Dr Amir is nearly as well-known as his much loved ‘Mama Khan’ whose exploits he references regularly with affection across his media appearances.
- Sharon Watson DL, the CEO and Principal, Northern School of Contemporary Dance. After studying at London Contemporary Dance School, Sharon graduated from the BPA (Hons) in Contemporary Dance at NSCD in 1997. Sharon Watson is the fourth Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Prior to this, she was the longest-standing Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. During her tenure at Phoenix Dance Theatre, Sharon received a number of awards and accolades: in 2010, she was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s ‘Women to Watch’, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK. She was awarded The Sue Ryder ‘Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Business Award’ and named ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’ in 2016. She recently received the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts’ Companionship Award from Sir Paul McCartney and was recognised as one of ‘100 faces of a vibrant economy 2017’ by Grant Thornton. Acknowledged at the 2017 Northern Power Women Awards as part of the very first ‘Top 50 Power List’, in 2018 Sharon won the First English Woman’s Award for Arts and Culture. Northern School of Contemporary Dance presented Sharon with an Honorary Fellowship in 2018. In July of 2019, Sharon received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her contribution to the arts and in October of the same year she was named the ‘Arts and Media Senior Leader of the Year’ by the Black British Business Awards. Sharon’s recognitions are testament to her continued passion and drive to contribute to the local and national creative industries through the medium of dance. Sharon is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and Black artists.
- Hannah Cockroft MBE DL is a multiple Paralympian gold medallist. Hannah is a British wheelchair racer specialising in sprint distances in the T34 classification. She holds the world records for the 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres and 1500 metres in her classification and the Paralympic records at 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres and 800 metres. Competing for Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, she won two gold medals. She won three further gold medals at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
- Debbie Dobson is the Director of Sales at Dakota Hotel Leeds. A Yorkshire woman born and bred. Debbie Dobson has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years. A Leeds supporter in every sense, when she’s not networking at Dakota Grill or planning high profile events, football enthusiast Debbie can be found entertaining VIP and corporate guests at Leeds United’s Chairman’s Lounge. Debbie is also a Yorkshire businesswoman having owned her own salon in the beauty industry for the past 20 years. In her previous roles, she was instrumental in opening the award winning Spa at Oulton Hall Hotel. Debbie is passionate about nurturing and mentoring existing and future talent within the hospitality and tourism industry.
- Fiona Gardham is owner of The House at Hawes. As a proud and passionate owner of a luxury B&B, going the extra mile, attention to detail and making a difference are part of her daily routine. Having previously owned two multi award-winning B&Bs in the North York Moors, the call of The Dales and the chance to design and create something even more special brought her to Hawes, with a brand new venture for 2021 with her husband, Tim. Her previous career in logistics, heading a commercial management team, was hugely rewarding with some big contract wins, but she declares that there is no greater privilege and pleasure than helping people make memories that last a lifetime from their visit to Yorkshire.
- Paul Vinsen is Hotel & Tourism Advisor at The Hull, Humber & East Yorkshire Hospitality Association. His previous roles include General Manager at the Forte Hotel Hull Marina, now the Holiday Inn, and Local Director with Trust House Forte for several years. He also represented the company regionally. He founded HEYHA in 2006 which he chaired until last year but remains as an advisor. For a number of years he coordinated the REYTAs the Visit Hull & East Yorkshire Tourism Awards for Visit Hull & East Yorkshire. He has had a successful career in hotels, mainly in Yorkshire. His previous roles include managing The Golden Lion Northallerton, the Beverley Arms, the Forte Hotel Hull Marina now the Holiday Inn, which he opened, and was appointed a Local Director for Trust House Forte and represented the company regionally. Latterly he managed the Ramada Jarvis Willerby Hull and had his own consultancy. As well as walking the Wolds he champions local food and of course supports Hull City. Paul has brought up his family worked and lived in Beverley for over 40 years and promoting this beautiful part of the world is second nature to him. He feels honoured and excited at being appointed an Ambassador for Welcome to Yorkshire
- James Mackenzie has been Head Chef and Owner of the Pipe and Glass Inn since 2006. It took less than four years for the establishment to be awarded a Michelin Star, a coveted accolade it holds to this day. James is a multi-award-winning chef and introduced the innovative Yorkshire Chef’s Certificate with Hull College. James is an authoritative voice regionally, nationally and internationally on all matters of food, drink and hospitality industry.
- Günther Peeters is Managing Director of Dutch professional football club FC Eindhoven. He draws on experience of management in a wide range of sectors, from media businesses to sporting enterprises. An alumnus of the University of Hull, Günther declares that he is a “passionate Yorkshire fan who wants to give his best for Yorkshire and who considers the ambassadorship for Welcome to Yorkshire as a personal honour and dream come true.”
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