Ryan Sanders, Visitor Experience Assistant, was recently nominated as VisitEngland's Tourism Superstar for 2019 Despite coming close to clinching 1st place, Ryan was announced as the competition runner up when the vote closed at the beginning of April.
This annual competition recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry. It is awarded to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have an unforgettable experience. Ryan is the only Bristolian to be shortlisted for the prestigious national award.
Ryan’s story is one of both professional and personal success. Diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was seven, Ryan found developing certain interpersonal skills very challenging. Determined to overcome this, Ryan joined the SS Great Britain Trust as a volunteer in 2015, working to develop his confidence and deliver excellent customer service at the museum experience. Since then he has excelled, taking up a full-time position as a Visitor Experience Assistant and making himself an invaluable part of the team.
Ryan said: “It has been an honour to have been nominated for this award. It is a fitting tribute to my incredible journey so far working at Brunel’s SS Great Britain. The support I have had from my friends, family and colleagues has helped me overcome some of the challenges I face with Asperger’s. The SS Great Britain is my second home and I am grateful for each day I spend here.”
WHAT OUR VISITORS AND STAFF HAVE TO SAY
"I just wanted to thank you and your colleagues for making our son’s birthday day out the other week so special... Ryan was our tour guide and he was fantastic: very engaging and patient with the boys’ constant questions!" Rachel (visitor email).
"Ryan takes great pride in his role as being an excellent ambassador for the SS Great Britain and the wider Bristol community. When we toured the ship, his enthusiasm was palpable and he was eager to share his considerable knowledge at a level that engaged and enthralled my students. He was courteous, appreciated the needs of his audience and was helpful to a fault - a credit to the British tourist industry." Ian Mitchell, Deputy Head at Kingswood House School, Epsom.
"We had a fantastic visit there today. Very informative - it really brings alive life on board for children. Ryan was very friendly & welcoming - thank you!" Rosemary (Facebook).
"Lovely museum for IKB - Ryan was very friendly and informative." Mr. Patel (visitor book).
"Great visit, impressive to see the boat and stories told by Ryan. Thank you." Mirjam (visitor book).
"On a visit a few weeks ago Ryan stood in at the very last minute for a talk having never done a talk before and he was AMAZING and a true professional" David (Facebook & Instagram)
“Ryan’s positive and inspiring attitude touches everyone he greets, making him frequently mentioned by name in our visitor book and TripAdvisor reviews. As well as inspiring and delighting visitors, Ryan is consistently generating new ideas that create amazing visitor experiences. His contribution to the tourism industry and inspiring customer service make Ryan very much Tourism Superstar 2019”. Liam Tolhurst, Head of Retail & Visitor Experience at the SS Great Britain Trust.