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Cleaning stars reach tourism awards final

Blenheim Palace’s cleaners are in the finals of a competition to find the 2022 Tourism Superstars and celebrate workers who went the extra mile for holiday guests and day trippers during the pandemic.

The cleaning team are one of 10 finalists for the coveted accolade launched 10 years ago by Visit England and Mirror Travel. The awards were cancelled last year because of Covid-19 but are back, with hundreds of nominations whittled down by judges to the final line-up. Now the public have until 22 March to vote for a winner, which will be announced at the end of English Tourism Week on 26 March. At Blenheim the task goes beyond cleaning the historic site’s 100 rooms.

Sonia Serna, Alison Darke, Ewelina Krawiecka, Charlotte White, Dorota Tarasek and Nell Clarke also monitor priceless artworks and furniture to ensure they remain in the best condition. Blenheim Palace’s deputy collections manager Carmen Alvarez is full of praise: “Our incredible cleaning team take on board jobs that only a very few people are willing to do, and they work incredibly hard to make sure the Palace always lives up to the high standards that our guests deserve.”

Their cleaning and disinfection regime during the pandemic was a major reason Blenheim was able to safely open to the public between lockdowns. We all know how visible cleaning offers reassurance and visitors not only felt safe during their tours but were keen to return. Following the first lockdown a constant disinfectant rotation was launched on top of the cleaning team’s usual general tasks. This saw every hard surface, touch point, facility, door handle cleaned again and again, with no more than 30 minutes between service. It all worked perfectly, including overcoming the challenge of two different teams working together to ensure they hit targets. Also making the final 10 is Liam Upton, assistant general manager at Norfolk Mead Hotel, Coltishall, Norfolk.

He wouldn’t even let a fall of snow (his car had to be rescued from the drifts) stop him from delivering takeaway afternoon teas all around Norfolk in the pandemic. Since re-opening, he has been understanding of personal situations, allowing guests to rebook when convenient. And when a wedding car failed to show up to collect a bride, Liam came to the rescue and chauffeured her to the hotel himself.

The Blenheim Palace cleaning team
Image: Visit England
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