Hestercombe has been named as one of the top small attractions in the South West, picking up a Silver at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The attraction, now in its 20th anniversary year, is famed for its historic gardens, house and art gallery, is based near Taunton and welcomes almost 80,000 visitors each year.

The awards ceremony was held at Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium on Thursday (February 2), and CEO Philip White and General Manager Richard Mira (pictured) were on hand to collect the accolade.

Mr White said: “What an extraordinary start to 2017 this has been. Receiving this award means so much to us in this, our 20th year of opening to the public. Hestercombe is committed to developing both its world-class gardens, and the house to bring together art and the landscape, and this year also sees the launch of a fundraising initiative to further improve the attraction.

“We are delighted that we’ve been chosen as the recipients of this prestigious award and congratulate all the other fabulous and well-deserving venues that were nominated.”

After judging a record 602 entries, 380 business visits and 24 hours of panel discussions, 132 Finalists and 5 Highly Commended entries were put through to this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of headline sponsors South West Water Business, said: “We’re committed to playing our part in delivering a sustainable economic future for the South West and feel there’s never been a better time to showcase the individuals and businesses who pioneer, create jobs and help drive the region’s economy and growth.  We understand how crucial the leisure & tourism industry is to the region and how important water is for such businesses. We’re thrilled to be supporting the Tourism Awards again, and celebrate the hard work, innovation and determination that goes into making the thriving tourism industry in the South West such a success.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “Tourism is one of biggest and fastest growing industries in the world and is at the heart of the South West economy.  Recent research has proved that investing in tourism reaps a greater economic return than virtually every other industry, not to mention contributing to the unique assets and quality of life of this fantastic region.  I pay tribute to all this year’s Finalists for being ‘beacons’ for the region and demonstrating just what tourism can do.”