Isle of Wight Hovertravel favourite shortlisted for top award.

For the second time in two years, an Isle of Wight employee has been recognised for their outstanding work in welcoming visitors – and we’re being asked to get behind him!

The shortlist for Visit England and the Mirror newspaper’s Tourism Superstar 2020 has been announced – and a Hovertravel employee is among those recognised.

Lorry Middleton is a firm favourite with visitors to the Island and regulars who make the crossing between Southsea and Ryde on the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service.

Havant based Lorry is shortlisted as a Tourism Superstar for his passion in his job and for the Isle of Wight as a destination, offering advice and suggestions for those visiting the UK’s number one holiday island.

It is now down to a public vote to decide the winner, and we’re being asked to back Lorry.

Lorry was surprised to learn he was nominated:

‘I’m overwhelmed because I’m just a guy who turns up to go to work and does a good job. You need returning business, you need people to say ‘I had a terrific experience’ or ‘I had a good experience’ and even if they had a bad experience, find out why they had a bad experience and improve it, to say’ that shouldn’t have happened’.

Visit Isle of Wight nominated Lorry for the Visit England/Mirror Tourism Superstar awards.

Will Myles, MD at Visit Isle of Wight says he is delighted that Lorry has been shortlisted:

‘It goes to show that on this Island, we’ve got some amazing people that work within travel, work within tourism to make this place the location where people want to come to visit for their holidays, for their short breaks, to visit friends and family and to do that we have got some superstars. It’s an achievement in itself that Lorry has been shortlisted by Visit England for this accolade. It’s now down to us as people on the Island, as friends and family to get the votes in place for Lorry so he can be Visit England’s Tourism Superstar.’

Neil Chapman, MD at Hovertravel says:

‘We’re immensely proud, all of us at Hovertravel are incredibly proud of Lorry today. I think all the effort that he puts in to his job has been acknowledged whole heartedly through this awards process and we’re very very proud of him.’

Neil explains that staff at Hovertravel aren’t taught to act in a certain way:

‘We’re about being natural, giving the autonomy to the people on the ground to offer a good safe customer service. What Lorry brings is above and beyond, and he absolutely sets the marker to the highest degree. We get many compliments about many of our staff, but Lorry does get an awful lot and it’s great to see one great big acknowledgment today.’

Lorry adds that coming to work each day is a pleasure:

‘The people that I work with are absolutely fantastic, the craft is exciting, watching it pull up each morning, the commuters turn up, the school kids, the daily traveller and they want to know about the island, what bus. I had one yesterday that came all the way from Texas and she wanted to go to a place I’ve never been to on the island, but it was getting there that was the logistical challenge.’

Lorry recently won hearts at Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Awards in November, picking up the gold award for Customer Service.

Now Lorry is up against nine potential winners from around the country including Plymouth, London and Blackpool. It is the public vote which will decide who will take the crown of Tourism Superstar.

It’s the second time in two years that the Isle of Wight has appeared in the shortlist for the awards, and it is hoped that Lorry will follow the success of the 2018 winner.

Red Funnel’s Dancing Man Jim O’Reilly scooped the Tourism Superstar award in 2018 for his unique way of welcoming those visiting the Isle of Wight and they are offering their support.

Jim says:

‘I am genuinely delighted to hear that Lorry has been nominated for the Visit England Tourism Superstar 2020 award!

‘We both share the privilege of being able to welcome visitors to the beautiful Isle of Wight and it would be amazing to see this award come back home.

‘Having the honour of winning this award here at Red Funnel back in 2018 was a truly wonderful experience from start to finish, so I wish Lorry the very best of luck and will be sure to vote for him too!’

When asked why people should vote for him, Lorry adds:

‘If people like me and they remember me for looking after them and helping them, then that’s what I’d like to be voted for. I’d like to be voted for the fact that I do a good job, or try to do a good job and that I try to look after people.’

Voting for the Visit England and Mirror Travel Tourism Superstar opens March 7 and the winner will be announced on Saturday April 25, during English Tourism Week.