Hundreds of people have tuned in online to watch the biggest celebration of tourism in the UK. The 2020 Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards, sponsored by York City Knights, have been held virtually for the first time ever due to the current COVID-19 lockdown.

Chris Kamara, Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, actor Nicholas Ralph, Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft and Dr Amir Khan, were among the stars who took part in the show, either performing or sending congratulatory messages to the winners.

Hosts Natalie Anderson and Rich Williams presented 17 awards to 16 top Yorkshire businesses and organisations in the tourism and hospitality sector, recognising the very best accommodation, attractions, food and drink, produce, arts and culture.

There were emotional acceptance speeches from some winners with cheers of joy and some tears too, from those who have operated their businesses in the most challenging of circumstances over the last nine months.

There was a double win for Yorkshire’s newest 5-star Hotel Grantley Hall which was recognised in both the Best Large Hotel and New Tourism Business categories, while Business Events Venue of the Year went to The Grand in York.

For the second year running the Small Hotel award went to Grays Court in York, with B&B and Guest House of the Year going to Brickfields Farm, Kirkbymoorside. The Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year award was presented to High Oaks Grange in Pickering, with Grand Get-Togethers in Malton being named number one for Self-catering Accommodation.

The food and drink categories saw wins for The Drovers Arms, which was named Pub of the Year, the Taste of England Casual Dining Award went to The Rattle Owl in York with the Producers and Makers Award going to Rounton Coffee Roasters in Northallerton.

The Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award went to Cottage in the Dales in Leyburn and the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award went to
National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley.

Harewood House was recognised as the top Large Visitor Attraction and the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year award went to Bradford Cathedral, with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough taking home the prize for Arts & Culture.

It was two years on the bounce for Hotham's Gin School and Distillery which was once again named Experience of the Year and the Tourism Event Award went to Hallowscream at York Maze.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive James Mason said: “The easiest thing would have been to cancel tonight’s awards but that’s simply not the Yorkshire way is it? I’m so proud that despite the lockdown we’ve still been able to put these awards on to celebrate all our fantastic tourism businesses, albeit virtually. Never has our sector been more deserving of some cheerleading and recognition.

“The biggest of congratulations to all our White Rose Award winners, to everyone who got a silver or bronze award and indeed to every single finalist. I know how incredibly challenging this year has been, but the grit and determination to keep going is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The sheer quality and diversity we’ve seen tonight is all the proof we need of how ready Yorkshire is to welcome tourists back safely when we can.”

The event also raised money for Yorkshire Cancer Research. The charity was due to be the official partner for the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire which has now been postponed until 2022.

Donations will be used to help save lives by preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer in Yorkshire.