Winning Weston scoops tourism awards

One of the region’s top tourism and hospitality venues enjoyed a night of success at the Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism and Good Food Awards last night on Thursday 9th March.

Colin Sweeney, chief executive of the Weston Park Foundation, was awarded the Graeme Whitehead Award for outstanding contribution to tourism, and Weston Park also picked up the award for best self-catering accommodation of the year for its holiday cottages.

The Granary restaurant at the historic venue on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border was also nominated for the best casual dining restaurant of the year.

Judges praised Colin for his decades of service to the tourism industry in Staffordshire and the Midlands as a whole.

He has been CEO at Weston Park since 1997, during which time it has hosted such high-profile events as the G8 Leaders’ Summit retreat day in 1998, the Northern Ireland Peace Talks in July 2001 and the hugely popular V Festival for 20 years. It now attracts 150,000 visitors a year.

Colin, who was not able to be at last night’s awards event in person, recorded an acceptance video in which he said how much the honour meant to him.

“I’m very touched to receive this award and can say absolutely that it’s come as a complete surprise.

“Our partnership with Enjoy Staffordshire is really important to Weston. We enjoy the camaraderie, the relationship, the sharing of information, and it enables Weston to continue to be the fantastic destination that it is which attracts so many wonderful and varied events throughout the year.

“The success would not be possible without the team of people I have behind me, and I want to thank them for all their hard work and commitment. I’m particularly touched that the award is made in memory of Graeme, who we knew and I worked with for many, many years.”

Graeme Whitehead was the tourism manager at Staffordshire County Council who died in 2018.

Andrea Webster, Weston Park’s marketing manager, said: “We are over the moon that Colin and Weston Park have been recognised by the judges. We knew Colin wasn’t going to be able to attend the presentation last night so we set up a surprise presentation for him in the house – he was totally delighted to be recognised in this way!

“We are also thrilled to be recognised for our unique self-catering accommodation and the dining options we have available. A huge team effort goes into making every aspect of Weston Park special and it is lovely to have that recognised by independent judges.”

Weston Park is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford and has been run by the Weston Park Foundation, an independent charity, for nearly 40 years. As well as the stately home, the estate includes a 1,000-acre Grade II listed park and three Grade I listed buildings.

The Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards saw more than 40 of the county’s best tourism and hospitality businesses go head-to-head for prizes at the Doubletree by Hilton Stoke-on-Trent.

Many of the winners in the 19 categories will go on to represent Staffordshire at the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence in June.

For more information about Weston Park, visit


About Colin Sweeney

Colin Sweeney has played a pivotal role in developing Weston Park as one of the region’s most prestigious visitor attractions since he was appointed CEO in 1997.

He has overseen moves to offer exclusive residential use in the house and been responsible for securing investment to preserve and restore the estate, including oversight of its internationally important collection of 30,000 objects including old master paintings, furniture and ceramics.

The estate’s grounds have been returned to Capability Brown’s original vision under Colin’s leadership, the 1767 Granary building has been restored and is now home to a popular restaurant and stunning art gallery, four follies have been given a new lease of life as luxury holiday cottages and a rolling programme of works has seen key rooms in the house re-decorated and re-presented.

Colin has contributed to a sustainable tourism strategy for the region, was an active board member for Tourism West Midlands, a board member of the Taste of Staffordshire committee – where he met and worked with Graeme Whitehead – a past board member of Enjoy Staffordshire and was chair and continues to be a committee member of UK Hospitality. He was made a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality in 2019.

Andrea Webster said: “Colin’s leadership and innovation saw Weston through the darkest days of the pandemic and is now focused on continuing Weston’s growth, with the popular Camp Bestival returning for a second year, the addition of two new contemporary holiday lodges, farming for nature by re-wilding areas of the park, underpinning Weston as a destination in its own right and continuing to fulfil the obligations of the charity through a varied and exciting programme of life-long learning and access.”