Tourism chief recognised for services to city

YORK'S tourism chief, Gillian Cruddas, has been made an MBE for services to tourism in the city, after visitor numbers rocketed from four to seven million during her 15-year tenure and annual spending reached an all-time high of £443m.

The chief executive of Visit York, who was born in Hull and has worked in tourism for 30 years including a brief stint as an air stewardess, said: "It is a recognition of the importance tourism plays in York and Yorkshire and I am extremely flattered. More people are visiting York than ever before, staying longer and spending more and we are delighted at that achievement.

"Our ultimate aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination and we never rest on our laurels. This year we will be waiting to see if York makes it to the tentative list for World Heritage Status, that's something we are very excited about."

It has been a double win for York with Helen Ashby, the head of knowledge and collections at the National Rail Museum, also receiving an OBE for services to heritage.

The 51-year-old, who has two children and two step-children, spoke to the Yorkshire Post yesterday from a museum trip on a carriage being pulled by two 1930s locomotives along the Settle-Carlisle railway.

She said: "I couldn't believe it when I opened the letter, I was absolutely stunned. I found out months ago but I haven't told anybody yet, not even my husband, I haven't found the right words to say it. I never planned for this career and even studied languages at Bradford University but when I graduated it was during a bad recession and I needed a job. I joined as a filing clerk but then a couple of curators left, I applied for the job and have been here ever since. Yorkshire has such a rich history of trains and it is fascinating to learn and help other people pursue it.

"I have been on the Flying Scotsman, Mallard and the Evening Star – the last locomotive built for mainline operation in this country – as well as travelling to train museums as far away as Ecuador and Japan. "