Hotels, restaurants and tourist spots ready to battle for East Yorkshire awards
As the most remarkable hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations prepare to celebrate the best in East Yorkshire hospitality, Ian Midgley met some first-time Reyta Award finalists
THERE’S trouble brewing in the Townend household.
After three years as the undisputed queen of the cuppa, Elaine Townend is facing her stiffest challenge yet.
As owner of Millers Tea Room, in Raywell, Elaine is the three-time winner of the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Award (Reyta) for the best cuppa – putting her at the head of the table when it comes to café culture.
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And she hopes being nominated as a finalist for the fourth year running in this year’s awards is a step towards a quadruple crown.
But not if her daughter Amy Dickinson has anything to do with it as, for the first time, she is going head-to-head with her mother as the owner of a rival Hull tearoom.
Amy, 27, opened Potters tea rooms, in Chanterlands Avenue, Hull, just ten months ago and is already challenging her mother’s supremacy as doyen of the doily, as one of six finalists vying for the best cuppa accolade.
And she says she will be straining every sinew – and tea bag – to dethrone her mum at next month’s Reyta awards ceremony.
“Yes, I think my mum’s won it for long enough now. It’s time for a new name on the trophy,” says Amy, who trained as an opera singer before finding her vocation as a pastry chef while working in cafés and bars in London.
“When I heard I’d made the final six, I was absolutely delighted,” she says.
“The fact I’m up against my mum makes it even better. No added pressure!
“There’s definitely a healthy competition there and we always argue about who makes the best scones. But I would be delighted to pip her to the post.”
Mum Elaine believes it would be perfect if the family could take the top two podium places, as long as she’s still on top.
“I’ve got some stiff competition this year,” she says. “But I’m delighted to have been nominated again. It shows we’re keeping our standards up.
“At the end of the day, it’s all good fun. I’d like to win again, obviously, but if I had to lose to somebody I’d rather it was to my own daughter.
“She’s worked really hard to get Potters up and running and done a sterling job. It’s great that she’s getting some recognition. My scones are better, though.”
Elaine and Amy are just two of the 70 finalists competing across 12 Reyta
categories including everything from best B&B to most remarkable hotel, self-catering accommodation, tourism experience and remarkable fayre.
One of the most hotly
contested categories is the remarkable pub of the year award, which is sponsored by the Mail and pits previous contenders including The Goodmanham Arms and The Falling Stone, at Thwing, against Hull newcomers The Lion & Key and The Wellington Inn.
Andy Gray, tourism
manager for Reyta organisers Visit Hull and East Yorkshire, said it was essential to celebrate the “brightest and best” of the local hospitality industry, which contributes more £615m to the region’s economy each year.
He said: “The response to the Reytas has been excellent across the whole region. This year’s awards are the most hotly contested and have been the most difficult to shortlist because of the really high quality exhibited.
“When you look at the line-up it shows just what a remarkable offer we have in Hull and the East Riding. Those shortlisted are not just from one of two places but from right across the county and shows the depth and breath of quality. The tourism experience we offer has never been better.”
The winners of all 12 categories will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Hull Mercure Grange Park Hotel, in Willerby, on Thursday, March 14.
And, for another first-time nominee, Justin Staal, owner of Staal Smokehouse, in Long Riston, just making the awards ceremony will be an achievement.
Justin and wife Georgina opened their East Yorkshire smokehouse just 13 months ago and now supply prestigious restaurants such as the Pipe & Glass and Tickton Grange with their smoked products – as well as customers nationwide through their website.
“It’s great just to be recognised,” says Justin, who had the idea for creating a smokehouse at Georgina’s family farm after working in the travel industry and seeing how food was prepared in far-flung corners of the world.
“It’s been hard work. It’s an acknowledgment that we’re going in the right direction. It’s a great pat on the back.
“We’re just a small business hoping to contribute to the great range of products that are made in East Yorkshire and, hopefully, creating a little niche for ourselves that didn’t exist before.
“Hopefully, making it to the final – getting in the paper – will let people know we are here and what we are doing and, maybe, pique their interest a little.
“It’s a bit scary seeing some of the established businesses that we are up against, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens on the night. It’s getting better for us, month by month, and we had a great run-up to Christmas, so we’re really happy with how it’s going. To win a Reyta would be the icing on the cake.”
For more information about the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards, visit