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THE CEO of an award winning Leicestershire Zoo has been selected as a finalist for a national tourism award, after steering the attraction through the stresses the pandemic. 

Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo has been chosen as one of only ten finalists in VisitEngland’s annual Tourism superstar competition, which recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the English tourism industry.

Picture: Uncover The Story

Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE was appointed CEO of Twycross Zoo in 2013 and her unique combination of animal welfare sensibility, scientific rigour and business acumen has been instrumental in rejuvenating Twycross Zoo, launching a 20-year £55m masterplan which includes the opening of Gruffalo Discovery Land later this Spring and the development of the UK’s first and only National Science and Conservation Centre in 2024.

Sharon also oversaw the development, launch and delivery of a new Tourism Growth Plan for Leicester and Leicestershire in October 2019 and helped to deliver its priorities during the pandemic. She was also successful in securing a Levelling Up Fund bid of £19m for the new Science and Conservation Centre that will support the sub-regional ambitions for growing the local visitor economy.

Leicestershire was one of the hardest hit areas during the height of the pandemic, putting additional pressure on local businesses. Sharon adapted to the changing government guidelines, re-opening the outdoor visitor destination for families across the county, and was instrumental in securing £450k in public donations, which secured the future of the zoo via refinancing.

“Throughout the pandemic, leading both the zoo and Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), I witnessed the variety of challenges across a broad range of industries that our region’s leaders faced,” she said.

“Frankly, everyone who reacted and adapted throughout the coronavirus outbreak deserves and award!”

Mike Dalzell, director for tourism, culture and investment at Leicester City Council, commended Sharon’s efforts in supporting the tourism sector across Leicester and Leicestershire. 

“Sharon strives to put a spotlight on not only Twycross zoo, but also on the multiple superb visitor attractions across the city and county,” he said.

“I wish her every success and urge everyone to spare a moment to vote for Sharon to help get Leicester and Leicestershire on the map as an outstanding tourist destination, that will help drive our economic recovery and growth for the future.”

To vote, visit: before March 22.

The winner will be announced in The Mirror newspaper on March 26.