FORMER professional footballer, Marco Gabbiadini, was among the winners of the Visit York Tourism Awards at a glittering ceremony last night.

Mr Gabbiadini and his wife Deborah, who collected the award with the team, run Bishops guest house in York, which celebrated with 13 winning businesses at the 15th awards ceremony, held at the National Railway Museum.

After more than 750 match appearances with York City, Sunderland, Northampton Town, Derby County, Darlington, Hartlepool United, and Crystal Palace, Mr Gabbiadini retired from his football career in 2004 to run the guest house, a restored Victorian townhouse in York, which took the award for Guest Accommodation of the Year.

El Piano vegan and gluten-free restaurant on Grape Lane, York, was voted for by the public to win the people’s choice ‘Taste of York’ award. Residents and visitors were asked to vote over social media from a shortlist of six local favourites during a two month period to choose the winner.

Shirley Fletcher from the Hilton hotel received the Outstanding Customer Service award and Alan Rowley, from Complete Yorkshire, won Employee of the Year at the event, which was hosted by BBC Presenter Phil Bodmer.

Ian Reed, director at the Yorkshire Air Museum, won the esteemed title of York Ambassador.

Two special awards were given to June Nelsey, who has recently handed over the reigns at the Monk Bar Hotel, for her services to the city's hotel industry, and Ivan Martin, of the York Association of Voluntary Guides, with thanks for being York Ambassador for the past year. Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York, said: “Ian has worked tirelessly over the last twenty years to promote York across the globe. He is always brimming with enthusiasm and imagination. The French in York event last year would not have happened without his dedication and vision to bring something different to the city.

“Despite a challenging economic climate, it is encouraging to see so many businesses and individuals go the extra mile to ensure York continues to go from strength to strength as a world-renowned visitor destination.”

The Winners

Guest Accommodation of the Year

Winner: Bishops

Finalists: Carlton House; The Coach House Hotel; Warrens

Hotel of the Year

Winner: Middlethorpe Hall & Spa

Finalists: Best Western Plus Dean Court Hotel; The Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa; Hotel Du Vin; York Marriott Hotel

Self Catering/Caravan Park of the Year

Winner: Dovecote Barns

Finalists: The Hop Store; The Riverside York; The Old Brewery; Robin Hood Caravan and Camping Park

Pub of the Year

Winner: The Golden Fleece

Finalists: The Old White Swan; The Royal Oak; The Three Tuns; The Black Swan

Outstanding Customer Service Award

Winner: Shirley Fletcher, Hilton York

Finalists: Matthew Greenwood, Exploring York; Rebecca and Damian Palmer-Bunting, Robin Hood Caravan & Camping Park; Yorkboat ‘Shipshape’ Team; York Maze Team

Business Tourism Award

Winner: York Marriott Hotel

Finalists: Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa; York Conferences at the University of York; York Racecourse

Marketing Campaign of the Year

Winner: York Maze

Finalists: Illuminating York Festival; Pilgrim PR/Skelwith Group/Raithwaite Hall Country Retreat – Grand Opening; York Museums Trust – Art in Yorkshire

Employee of the Year

Winner: Alan Rowley, Complete Yorkshire

Finalists: Andrew Hunt, Holiday Inn York; David Barker, Middlethorpe Hall & Spa; Rita Ridgeon, York Theatre Royal

Best Shopping Experience

Winner: The Hairy Fig

Finalists: The Balloon Tree Farm Shop & Café; Hotel Chocolat; Now and Then Events – York Does Vintage; York Designer Outlet

Visitor Attraction of the Year (under 50,000 visitors)

Winner: The Ice Factor

Finalists: Barley Hall; Breezy Knees; Quilt Museum & Gallery; The Web Adventure Park

Visitor Attraction of the Year (50,000 visitors & over)

Winner: York Racecourse 2011 Season

Highly Commended: York Dungeon

Finalists: Jorvik Viking Centre; York Art Gallery; York Maze

Taste of York – The People’s Choice Award

Winner: El Piano

Finalists: Akbar’s; Betty’s Café Tea Rooms; The Lime House; Melton’s; Rustique

York Ambassador

Winner: Ian Reed, Yorkshire Air Museum