The manager of a family-run South Shields-based travel agency has been hailed the best in the British Isles. Graeme Brett, owner and director at Westoe Travel in Westoe Road has been crowned UK and Ireland Manager of the year at a prestigious industry awards ceremony.
The accolade was presented to Graeme during the event, run by the Travel Trade Gazette, and held at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End.
The show was co-hosted by comedian Alan Carr and was attended by 700 travel industry figures.
Graeme, who will celebrate 30-years in the travel industry next year, said: “I was quite overwhelmed when they read my name out, there are 3,500 travel agencies in the UK so it really was amazing.
“I had been told in advance I had made it to the final eight, but never did I think I would win the award.
“The whole thing was a bit surreal being presented with the award by Alan Carr.
“The travel industry is such a tight knit community and a very supportive one which was evident when they came together to support the families of Chloe and Liam following the Manchester attack.”
Graeme, who is heavily involved in supporting the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust, was nominated by those within the travel industry field for the award including tour operators and travel companies he has dealt with over the years.
The Trust was launched as a lasting legacy to Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19, both from South Shields who were killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack, last May. It provides financial support, through the use of bursaries, to aspiring young performers and sportspeople to help them follow their dreams. The two areas were chosen as Chloe was a talented performer and Liam was a gifted cricketer.
On Graeme’s nomination, the judges said: “We were impressed by this inspiring owner-manager’s approach to leading his team - focusing on their individual strengths and needs. Graeme has sensitively and successfully steered the branch to an impressive sales performance, despite a very difficult year for the team in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack. His deep-rooted commitment to community service also really shone through.”
TTG group editor Pippa Jacks said: “Each year, we’re overwhelmed by the strength of entries from brilliant agents who go the extra mile for their customers, offering great value and sound advice, day in day out.
“TTG’s agent winners prove that travel retail in 2018 is a vibrant and successful business sector, and that agents continue to prove their worth by delivering phenomenal customer service to their customers. Huge congratulations to every agent that took home a trophy.”
The awards ceremony also celebrated the industry’s top suppliers, including cruise line Celebrity Cruises, tour operators If Only and Intrepid, and Caribbean hotel company Sandals – which was crowned overall Travel Company of the Year for 2018.