Premier Sailing has been named the winner of the Experience of the Year award, sponsored by insight6, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.

Established in 2009 as a part time business, continued growth has seen Premier Sailing evolve into a full time offering based at Fambridge Yacht Haven in Chelmsford, Essex, which aims to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to experience cruising under sail.

The business provides a range of bespoke sailing experiences, from family holidays to mile-building trips. For the past six years it has run a seven-leg sailing trip around Britain in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Most of us will come into contact with cancer at some point in our lives, and a personal experience of the care and support provided by Macmillan is what led Premier Sailing to set up the trip, which has raised over £30,000 for the charity so far.

The judges commended the business for developing an exhilarating, fulfilling and highly engaging expedition for which all profits are donated to charity – amounting to an incredibly memorable experience.

Colin Stracey, principal at Premier Sailing, said being announced as the winner was a “bit nerve-racking really, wasn’t expecting it at all”.

He added: “We run sailing holidays, and the one we put forward for this award is one which raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support. We sail around the UK, and we have people come from the Netherlands and Germany and across the UK, for seven legs around the UK. All the money we make goes to Macmillan.”

Mr Stracey added that he hoped the win would encourage more people to find out more about their holidays, which in turn will enable them to keep building the business.

About the sponsor

Working across the UK in the tourism sector for a wide variety of clients, from hotels to attractions, to festivals and themed events, insight6 provides comprehensive insight on the customer journey with tailored feedback, customer experience review programmes and training. The unique service provided offers local support and solutions to clients, to help them achieve a truly world class customer experience and develop highly motivated teams to ensure business success and profitability.

The finalists

Cambridge Vintage Tours – Highly Commended

Cambridge Vintage Tours is a family business offering tours of the Cambridgeshire city in custom-built, fully electric replicas of the famous 1910 Model T Ford.

The judges praised the friendly, knowledgeable tour guides who are able to answer questions in an easy-to-understand manner.

Sunnyfields Honey & Home – Highly Commended

Born from the desire to help people help the environment, Sunnyfields Honey & Home in Bungay, Suffolk offers experiences which allow the public to see honey bees at work and learn about the benefits they provide, something which thoroughly impressed the judges.

Brightlingsea Lido

Brightlingsea Lido in Essex was restored and relaunched in 2018 and aims to provide a safe, inclusive environment for all. The judges were inspired by their approach to ensure great visitor experiences through a happy, engaged and motivated team which, without a doubt, is contributing to their success.

Mersea Island Watersports

Established in 2013, Mersea Island Watersports in Essex provides water-based lessons in kayaking and much more for parties, corporate events and bespoke experiences.

The judges said that each trip is designed to work within the natural habitats and tidal estuaries of Mersea Island and provides great experiences for all levels of ability.