Visit York Tourism Awards - Judges

Polly Bennett (Judge Chair)
Founder & Editor, Little Vikings (York for kids)

Polly has been connecting families to the best of family-friendly York through her business, Little Vikings, for a decade. She’s been a London lawyer, a plugger for a major record label hanging out with rock stars, and even a medieval wench at The York Dungeon! Now she loves helping families make the most of their time in her hometown of York, ably assisted by her own three children.

Polly Bennett

Ann Gurnell
Ideas Group
A self-confessed brand, engagement and marketing geek, with a core strand of her DNA in tourism, destinations and attractions marketing. As Marketing Director of brand and business transforming Ideas Group, Ann works with York and international based tourism clients and the Ideas Group team delivered the award winning Let’s be York campaign for the city to reopen York post 2020’s CovidI9 lockdowns. Ann was also part of the team that created and opened York’s Chocolate Story in 2012.

Ann Gurnell

Brendan Paddison
Chair of the York Tourism Advisory Board
Brendan is Associate Dean in the Business School at York St John University. Brendan is Chair of the York Tourism Advisory Board and co-chair of the Tourism Education Futures Initiative (TEFI). He is internationally recognised for his work in tourism and has published widely on this subject.

Dr Brendan Paddison

Charlie Croft
Tourism Lecturer and Assistant Director with City of York Council

Charlie was until recently Assistant Director with City of York Council and has led on a wide range of briefs for the council over the years including on culture and tourism. Having completed his PhD at York St John University Charlie is now embarking on new projects including teaching in tourism at York St John.

Charlies photo

Mark Grewer
Managing Director at Hunter Gee Holroyd Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
Mark has over 30 years of experience helping businesses grow into the success that they want to be. He also heads-up the corporate finance team, supporting clients with raising money to expand or sell their own business or buy existing businesses.

Mark Grewer High Res 1

Philip Bolson
Owner, Mr B Hospitality
Philip has over 33 years’ diverse experience in hospitality working at all levels from; ‘on the floor’ through to Board level, from budget to Luxury, and from small private ownership to Global organisations. He now works with a select number of businesses helping them grow and be brilliant

Philip Bolson

John Gallery
Managing Director of the Great Potential Tourism Consultancy and chairman of Herriot Country Tourism Group

John loves transforming hospitality and tourism businesses for the better. He does that with new ways to look at problems, and out-of-the-ordinary ideas you can implement without costing the earth. John has re-skilled himself countless times and it’s this eclectic bag of tools which he puts at your disposal providing Marketing and Management Consultancy, Mentoring, Research, Sales, & Public Relations.

John gallery

Mary Archer

Chair of the Science Museum Group’s Board of Trustees

Dame Mary Archer has been reappointed by the Prime Minster as Chair of the Science Museum Group’s Board of Trustees and will continue in the role until December 2023. She started her career as a physical chemist and has taught Chemistry in Oxford, Cambridge and London. Dame Mary has also had a long association with the NHS, serving as chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between 2002 and 2012.

Dame Mary Archer 1

Emily Pickard

Emily runs York Mumbler, the largest & most trusted parenting information website in York.

It’s based around making life easier for parents in the area. Mumbler has a large and loyal local parent following, often describing Mumbler as a ‘lifeline’ as well as being the go-to resource for when parents are looking for places to go with their kids. Emily has 2 children and regularly reviews Yorks family friendly attractions, cafes and restaurants. She loves championing the best places for families in York.

Mumblerjudge2 2

Ben Thorpe

Ben is firmly embedded in the York hospitality scene through his website York on a Fork.

This has become a valued and reliable guide for foodies interested in York for nearly a decade leading to him being quoted across national media and being featured in The Lonely Planet Guide. He also works with York Food & Drink Festival to coordinate their events program, filling 10 days of demonstrations, trails, tasting events and more as well as fulfilling a similar role at York Chocolate Festival.