Our Dig for Victory produces TWO awards
I heard about the Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism (BBST) Awards back in March, while attending the Literature Exchange (gathering leaflets from local businesses for our guests). Businesses were invited to enter the awards, and indeed, more than one category if applicable. So, that's what I did. 'Glamping and Alternative Accommodation' of the Year, and 'New Tourism Business' suited my young Shepherd's Hut business. I felt excited and like maybe I was in with a chance as I filled in the in depth online forms, providing a number of examples to galvanise Esme's Escape's application. Some weeks later an email came in from the BBST who excitedly reported record numbers of applications from businesses across the county. Imposter syndrome set in, and so I put away any hopes and dreams of winning anything.
Summer arrives and with it a surprise phone call from Judy who introduces herself as a judge for BBST, Esme's Escape has got through the first round of the Glamping category and she'd like to stay so that she can experience our offering. On arrival she is very strict about what she can talk about but she does tell me she's stayed in LOTS of Shepherd Huts. On hearing this I tempered my expectations once more.
A month or so later I am contacted by Phillipa, the judge for the New Business category. Gulp! Esme's Escape has got through BOTH categories. She tells me she'd like to visit and meet me for a chat about my venture. She came, she saw, we chatted comfortably for over an hour and then she left. She told me she would submit her reports, then a panel would meet and go through everything, I would only hear anything more if Esme's Escape made it to the finals.
Fast forward to mid October and an incoming email from BBST 'Congratulations on your entries to the....'. My heart stopped. Really!? 'Oh My!' slipped from my lips, alarming Simon, my poor husband, who then had to wait several painful minutes as I read the email, and re-read it to make sure I had it right. 'I'm a finalist in BOTH Glamping AND New Business categories!'. Disbelief, pride, overwhelm, shock, you name it I felt it.
Thursday 21st November, Awards night finally came. I had by now researched the other finalists in the two categories, they were really impressive businesses including last year's gold winner in the Glamping category. The room was full of incredible businesses and the air was thick with anticipation. Glamping was up first and there weren't the standard three, but four finalists. The announcement came that this year there were two Silver awards and Esme's Escape was one of them along with the comment 'luxury that leaves you feeling totally spoilt'
A long wait for the New Tourism Business award followed, I'm thinking 'silver and a bronze would be fabulous'. Blow me down with a feather, Esme's Escape won another Silver! 'Very different from anything else, really impressive'. I beamed my way through the photographs, cheshire-cat-like, I did manage not to punch the air.
We are so proud of our little business, just one Shepherd's hut, dedicated to Esme, the 19 year old who arrived in our quiet little village in 1943 as a land girl, and never left. We offer 1940s nostalgia without compromising modern comforts of a comfy bed, flushing loo, induction hob, Log-fired hot tub and much much more. To have two judges AND a panel compare us against so many other amazing businesses and put us second is so incredible humbling and rewarding. These two awards sit beautifully either side of the Muddy Stilettos Best Boutique Stay in Somerset award from earlier this year.
I might come down from my high before Christmas, well, maybe!