Celebrating the finest in the Tourism Industry: Norfolk museum learning officer shortlisted for VisitEngland Tourism Superstar 2016

VisitEngland, the national tourist board, has announced the shortlist for Tourism Superstar 2016. The tribute to tourism star players was launched in 2012 as part of English Tourism Week (this year running from 5th – 13th March) and is supported by the Daily Mirror.  


Norfolk’s Rachel Duffield, Learning & Engagement Officer at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse near Dereham, is one of only 11 names on the national shortlist, and the only representative from the East of England.


The campaign recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry, and is awarded to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have an unforgettable experience. Rachel has certainly been doing this in her guise as ‘Moaning Martha’, fictional inmate of Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse whose gossipy monologues about life in the workhouse – delivered in an authentic Norfolk rural accent – have been engaging and entertaining visitors of all ages and abilities for the past seven years.


Voting opened on Saturday and runs until midnight on 28 February, with the winner announced on 5 March.  The winner is entirely decided on public votes, Click on this link if you would like to vote (and to watch Rachel in action in the nominees’ film):




Rachel’s commitment to living history certainly caught the eye of the Tourism Superstar judges who drew up the shortlist. Always up for a challenge and prepared to go the extra mile, in 2014 Rachel publically endured living on an authentic workhouse diet for three weeks, sharing the highs and lows via social media and her blog: http://theworkhousediet.blogspot.co.uk/ Her willingness to take on milk broth, boiled meat, pease pottage and workhouse gruel fired lots of imaginations, helping the museum reach new audiences from further afield and introducing them to what life was like within the workhouse walls. 


More recently in summer 2015 ‘Martha’ has been leading lots of activities for the Voices from the Workhouse project, a three-year, £1.8m Heritage Lottery Fund project which will transform the museum displays, telling the real stories of the people who lived and worked in the workhouse. She has led tours in character to raise awareness of the Voices from the Workhouse project, and has trialled new workhouse-related activities for families including Workhouse Top Trumps!

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