Peak ambassador scoops national tourism accolade

Belper's Tourism Superstar Adrian Farmer (left) guides a group of visitors around his home town.
Belper's Tourism Superstar Adrian Farmer (left) guides a group of visitors around his home town.

Tireless work to promote the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (DVMWHS) has netted a national accolade for one of the area’s most popular ambassadors – and put the spotlight on the Peak District – during the first-ever English Tourism Week.

Adrian Farmer, heritage co-ordinator at DVMWHS, beat off stiff competition from all over England to scoop one of only two commendations in a Tourism Superstar competition organised by national tourist board VisitEngland and the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Derbyshire-born Adrian and David Heatherington of County Durham were honourable runners up to the winner, taxi driver Alan Fidler of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the closely-fought contest – launched to reward England’s unsung travel industry hero.

Judges were impressed by Adrian’s love and dedicated work over the years for his home town of Belper and the DVMWHS, birthplace of the world’s first factory system and home to historic gems such as Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mill, Cromford Mill and Strutt’s North Mill, Belper.

Adrian was nominated by Joanne Bamford, Tourism & Culture Co-ordinator at Amber Valley Borough Council, and his colleague Sukie Khaira, Development Co-ordinator at the DVMWHS, who highlighted his work as a:

Member of many key local groups, including Belper Civic Forum, Belper Historical Society and the Friends of Belper River Gardens

Volunteer guide at Belper North Mill and knowledgeable walk leader

Fund-raiser for a project to replace an original jubilee clock in the town when Editor of the Belper News

Author of three books and a popular column for a local magazine

Catalyst who brings together voluntary groups and organisations to make things happen

Founder of Discovery Days at the DVWHS, which has developed from a weekend celebration to a ten-day annual festival, attracting thousands of visitors

Popular ambassador whose watchword is ‘Go, Belper, Go!”

“This commendation came completely out of the blue – I didn’t know I’d been nominated,” said Adrian. ”I was very touched when I found out.

“I feel incredibly proud of my home town of Belper, and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. It’s a privilege, as a volunteer and in my work, to be able to let people know about the town’s contribution to world history, and show them what a fascinating and enjoyable place it is for a visit.

“I couldn’t have got the annual Discovery Days Festival started in 2005 without the help of scores of volunteers who now contribute every year to its success. They’re as passionate about the Derwent Valley as I am – and all superstars in their own right!”

David James, chief executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire, added: “Adrian’s nomination was one of five from the Peak District that we forwarded for consideration in the Tourism Superstar competition. We are delighted that his sustained contribution and many achievements have been recognised in this way during a week when we are celebrating the very best of English tourism.

“Not only is it a much-merited reward for his considerable efforts on behalf of Belper and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site over the years, it is also helping put the Peak District on the map as a world-class destination and home to a wealth of internationally-significant history and heritage.”