The First Lady

The new General Manager at Blackpool Tower, Kate Shane. Kate in the ballroom.
The new General Manager at Blackpool Tower, Kate Shane. Kate in the ballroom.
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When she used to visit Blackpool Tower as a child, Kate Shane never dreamed one day she would be in charge of the iconic building.

But she has now become the first female general manager of the famous landmark – a piece of Blackpool history she feels very passionate about.

She said: “I wake up in the morning and spring out of bed.

“It will be hard work, we have a lot to do to get everything ready for when the new attractions are up and running in September. But I feel very privileged.

“I think, regardless of gender, this is a fantastic opportunity – and to be the first at anything makes it mean even more.”

Kate, who lives in St Annes, cannot stop smiling as she sits in the world-famous and intricately beautiful Tower ballroom.

And as if on cue, as we talk, seaside-style organ music starts up and several elderly couples take the floor for a waltz.

“This is what it’s all about,” she says. “The Tower brings back memories for older people, and for those visiting it for the first time, they just can’t stop looking round in amazement.

“I love working in leisure, because people come looking for something to make them happy. They don’t have to come here, they choose to spend their hard-earned money and time at your attraction.

“And you get to give them a memorable experience and talk to them and meet so many nice people. It’s a great job.”

Kate sees now as an exciting time to lead the Tower into the future.

After it was bought by Blackpool Council from First Leisure – who she used to work for as head of finance – plans were brought in to revamp the attraction.

Kate, who is married to Simon, said: “It’s the perfect time to be doing this role – both in terms of the Tower and the wider resort.

“We are bringing new attractions in and still have the existing, historical attractions too, which are close to my heart and we are embellishing them where we can.

“One of the things I want to do is bring local people into the Tower. You hear people saying they haven’t been to the Tower since the 80s or have never been – it shouldn’t be like that.

“And of course our visitors come from across the UK and the world.”

When she gets any spare time, Kate likes to go for walks on the beach with her dog, is a season ticket holder at Blackpool FC and grows her own vegetables.

She said: “I’m very proud of Blackpool. We moved here in 1979 and it was a bit of a shock at first, with all the bright lights – I was used to riding my horse every night.

“But I love the fact we have the beach, we have the Tower, so many attractions – we have so much.

“And I’m looking forward to welcoming everybody to the new-look Tower.”