Staff at the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham are cock-a-hoop after learning that the venue has been named as a finalist in the 2018-19 Beautiful South Awards for Excellence. Kent’s largest military museum is nominated in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year Category of the awards which are organised by Tourism South East.
The Museum has made it through a six-month selection process that involved being shortlisted from entry forms and then mystery shopped by expert independent judges. Nigel Smith, CEO of Tourism South East, said “The Beautiful South Awards are a reminder of the amazing wealth of fantastic tourism businesses and experiences that the South East of England has to offer. The standard just gets better and better which is a reflection of the investment taking place in the industry and the professionalism of the people who work in this important sector. Particular thanks go to the amazing independent volunteer judges who again did such a thorough job and had to make some very difficult decisions. Some very fine businesses narrowly missed the cut so the finalists truly are the best of the best.”
Commenting on the nomination, Operations & Commercial Manager, Graham Hukins said, “The awards attract entries from exceptional tourism businesses across the South and South East – an area that stretches from Kent to Hampshire and from the Isle of Wight to Milton Keynes, so just making the finals is a huge achievement.”
Museum Director, Rebecca Nash added “We have put a great deal of effort into improving the visitor experience over the past year with a refurbished café and gift shop, new children’s activity trail and a host of superb exhibitions. It’s great to see these improvements and the hard work of the Museum team being recognised.”
The results will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony to be held at the iconic Grand Hotel in Brighton on the 5 December. General Manager of the Grand, Andrew Mosley, said “We are very much looking forward to welcoming Tourism South East and all the finalists to the awards ceremony on the 5th December. We are delighted to be this year’s title sponsor and it is a real privilege to be the host venue once again following the success of last year’s ceremony. The event really shines a spotlight on the whole host of quality and successful hospitality businesses the South East has to offer and we are wishing all the finalists lots of luck on the night.”
The news comes as the Museum is enjoying its busiest-ever season having welcomed over 16,000 visitors in the first nine months of this year – beating the previous record of 14,303 for a whole year which was set in 2015!
The Museum’s major exhibition VC: For Valour – Sapper Victoria Crosses of the First World War continues until December. The exhibition focusses on the physical heritage of the First World War through the collection of ten Victoria Crosses received by Royal Engineers, all of which are held by the Museum. Through this, the individual stories of these soldiers are told through personal items such as diaries, service dress and letters. The project also allows the public a unique opportunity to see the genuine VCs on display within the museum. A series of events linked to the exhibition, including lectures and a play, are scheduled over the coming months – full details can be found at www.re-museum.co.uk.
To celebrate their award nomination, the Museum is offering specially-discounted tickets for visits between now and the awards ceremony on 5 December – book via the Museum’s website using the code REM18. There is plenty to see at the Museum which tells the story of the Royal Engineers and how they have helped the British Army live, move and fight for over 300 years. It is Kent’s largest military museum with highlights including 25 Victoria Crosses, Wellington’s map of Waterloo, Zulu War weapons, amazing bridge-laying tanks, a huge section of the Berlin Wall, a Harrier Jump Jet and an enormous V2 Rocket. With interactive exhibits, indoor and outdoor play areas, café and gift shop, there’s plenty for all the family!
The Museum is open from 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm) Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays – full details can be found at www.re-museum.co.uk.