DCSIMG

Tourism’s trump card

His family once sold houses in Lancashire – his war hero grandfather having founded Entwistle estate agency in Lytham.

Today Simon Entwistle helps sell the county – and this part of it in particular – to visitors.

Now he’s carrying the hopes of Blackpool and the North West in his quest to become Visit England’s Tourism Superstar.

Simon knows a lot is riding on his likability factor. He needs the all important public vote of confidence from Britain’s premier resort to clinch the title.

The Blackpool tourism ambassador is one of just 10 finalists for the 2013 Tourism Superstar award.

He finds the fact he is the only finalist from the North West a little daunting.

“I’m up against the big league – York, 
Edinburgh, Cornwall, Devon, London and 
elsewhere. I need those votes.”

Not bad for a chap who switched careers from a desk job at a council to pounding the tour beat on foot across the county.

“That was back in 1996,” recalls Simon. “I was bored in my job at the council. No, I’m not saying which council. My wife and I had gone to York and went on about eight different tours, the Minster, ghost tours, all sorts. I loved them all and thought what a great profession to belong to.”

The Blackpool tourism ambassador says he got hooked on the sheer buzz of Blackpool as a child. “My father and grandfather lived in Lytham. In fact my grandfather, who won the military cross, started the Entwistle estate agency of old. He became a great champion for Lancashire.”

Simon regularly gives ghost/supernatural tours at attractions across Lancashire.

Historic Samlesbury Hall, Towneley Hall, Pendle Hill and Ribble Valley Haunted Inns are just a few of his haunts.

But his enduring love of Blackpool Tower sees him back where it all started soon – with a ghost tour of Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Having already helped prepare actors for the Pendle Witch Trials (1612) element of 
Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Simon admits it’s rather nice to be going up in the world.

“I feel extremely honoured as The 
Tower is the most iconic tourism feature in 
Lancashire,” he adds.

“When I started my tours back in 1996 I felt that for the first time in my life I was 
doing something I really enjoyed. I took to it like a fish to water. I started tours of Lancashire, then into the Lakes and onto Skipton.

“I’ve done tours in Blackpool through Blackpool Council and the material there is always fascinating. Basically I just love tourism and it’s become my life. Our county has such a lot to offer. There’s not just Blackpool but the Fylde coast, Ribble Valley, Bowland, and some truly stunning scenery. Some areas wouldn’t look amiss in the Cotswolds. But Blackpool is a gem, no two ways about it. What I love most are those fabulous Victorian buildings. The Tower is in the same league as York Minster and Stonehenge.

“I think it’s a national treasure. Blackpool still brings in 13m visitors a year. John Bickerstaffe who conceived the idea of Blackpool Tower would have no idea that it would still be working well into the 21st century.

“When I walk into the Tower it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The ballroom is breathtakingly beautiful, millions have enjoyed the atmosphere there. It’s a real honour to be part of it.”

Simon draws Lancashire’s more macabre histories and locations to life through storytelling and guided tours. His event at the Tower Ballroom on Good Friday is no exception.

He’s a big fan of Blackpool. “The council has worked its socks off to change the image. And when Merlin took over running The Tower they brought the essence of Lancashire back.

“The Tower Ballroom is the real heart of Lancashire. For me it’s imperative to take story telling into the 21st century - even though you’re turning the clock back for the tales.”

Visit England has teamed up with the Daily Mirror to host the public vote. Visit www.mirroronline.co.uk to see nominees and vote for your favourite. Voting takes place all month with the winner announced during English Tourism Week – March 16 to 26.

 

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