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FIVE hundred people gathered for a night of celebration as York shone the spotlight on its tourism industry successes.

The annual Visit York Tourism Awards paid homage to a wide variety of business and individuals across the sector with 14 awards handed out on the night.

Hosted at the National Railway Museum, guests were welcomed with a red carped reception before enjoying French and Yorkshire- themed canapes in the Great Hall, in a nod to the forthcoming Tour de France.

The ceremony then got underway in the Station Hall, with a three-course dinner served to tables nestled among the carriages during intervals in the prize-giving.

As well as a range of businesses, a number of individuals were also recognised on the night, including Sarah Maltby, director of attractions with The JORVIK Group of Attractions, who was crowned York Tourism Ambassador of the Year.

Sarah said: "I am very shocked, and very surprised. It is amazing to get recognition for a job that you absolutely love.

"I love what I do, and it's fantastic to do something you enjoy with a team who are so supporting and encouraging, and also in city which has the highest quality, most diverse and fun tourism offering in the country."

Also taking to the stage was Jade Kelly, from Holiday Inn York, who was awarded the Outstanding Customer Service Award after judges praised her "enormous passion and enthusiasm for excellent customer service".

A poignant moment in the night saw all 500 guests rise to their feet and raise a glass for a toast in memory of Mike Bennett, who founded York's Richard III Museum, and died in March.

As the evening progressed the competition for the titles brought rapturous applause as the finalists were announced in many categories, with an almighty cheer and whoop when The Whippet Inn Steak and Ale House took Restaurant of the Year.

Co-owner Martin Bridge said: "We have been open just over a year and this is our first major award. I'm very lucky in that I have a great team of staff who are as passionate about the business I am. The buy-in from them is unimaginable."

A prize draw in aid of The Children's Air Ambulance closed the awards, with a DJ and charity casino leaving guests dancing and gambling into the early hours.