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Attractions praise staff and volunteers after winning awards

PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:58 15 February 2019

RSPB marketing and publicity officer, Ian Barthorpe outside the  visitor centre at RSPB Minsmere Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

RSPB marketing and publicity officer, Ian Barthorpe outside the visitor centre at RSPB Minsmere Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Staff and volunteers have been praised at three East Anglian attractions which have scooped awards for making visitors feel welcome.

RSPB Minsmere has praised its volunteers for winning the welcome award by VisitEngland. Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWNRSPB Minsmere has praised its volunteers for winning the welcome award by VisitEngland. Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWN

Two Suffolk nature reserves - RSPB Lakenheath and RSPB Minsmere - and Colchester Castle have all received “Welcome” awards from VisitEngland for 2018.

David Rogers, site manager at Lakenheath Fen Nature Reserve, said: “It’s great to be recognised by the Welcome award.

“It’s all down to our friendly set of volunteers. They are all extremely knowledgeable and many of them are keen birdwatchers themselves with an intimate knowledge of the reserve.

“We really try to tailor the visit to each person that walks through the door – for example if they come in with a big camera we would tell them where to go to get the perfect snap of a Kingfisher. Or if they’re a family with children we might suggest that they try pond dipping.”

RSPB Lakenheath has now won its fourth VisitEngland welcome award. Picture: GREGG BROWNRSPB Lakenheath has now won its fourth VisitEngland welcome award. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Mr Rogers puts the reserves success all down to being welcoming, enthusiastic and tailoring the visitor’s experience.

This mindset is also similar to that at RSPB Minsmere reserve – which also praised its large pool of volunteers.

Ian Barthorpe, visitor experience officer who was worked at the reserve for the past 16 years, said: “We pride ourselves on trying to give visitors an enjoyable visit, from the moment they arrive to the moment they go home.”

Mr Barthorpe also believes it is his friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, who are a reflection of the reserve’s high quality training.

Colchester Castle was one of the three attractions in East Anglia to be awarded the welcome award by VisitEngland.  Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCILColchester Castle was one of the three attractions in East Anglia to be awarded the welcome award by VisitEngland. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

It is the first time Minsmere has won the welcome award but for Lakenheath it is its fourth win in the past five years.

Colchester Castle was also awarded the welcome award for its visitor services.

Councillor Tim Young, who is the portfolio holder for business and culture, said: “We are delighted to win our first VisitEngland award.

“I’m not surprised as it’s a stunning building – but I have to give praise to the fantastic staff who always show great quality and professionalism with their knowledge of the castle.”

A spokesman for Visit England said: “This accolade is awarded to those attractions that give visitors a genuinely excellent welcome to their attraction.

“This goes to those teams who go the extra mile to ensure their visitors are really well looked after and get the most out of their visit.”

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