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Durham farm attraction wins gold at Tourism Awards

Hall Hill Farm

One of Durhams most popular tourist attractions has again scooped a GOLD award, after it was named Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in the prestigious North East England Tourism Awards 2011.

Hall Hill Farm, near Lanchester, which celebrated 30 years in the business this year, had been nominated for an award, for the third year running. In 2010 the farm attraction won the Gold award for Best Tourism Experience and then went on to be named Farm Attraction of the Year nationally by the National Farm Attraction Network.

The Awards that celebrate the strength and breadth of the regions tourism industry were announced last night (Thursday 6 October) at an award ceremony at the Stadium of Light.

It is fantastic that we have again been recognised as quality tourism business, said Ann Darlington, tourism manager, Hall Hill Farm. To receive a Gold award is a real achievement and great recognition that we have all worked very hard to make sure that we provide each visitor with an enjoyable and memorable experience. 2011 has been a very good year for us. New developments such as the Playbarn and celebrating our 30th anniversary has helped our business and increased our visitor numbers.

Hall Hill Farm, which employs up to 50 people, welcomes thousands of visitors every year attracted by the family fun on offer and the opportunities to see and touch animals at close quarters. Visitors can bottle feed lambs, see fluffy chicks, inquisitive goats, magnificent Highland Cattle and get close to childrens favourites such as guinea pigs and rabbits, as well as enjoy a tractor or donkey ride around the beautiful countryside.

The County Durham farm, which opened in 1981, is very much a family business. Situated on a 291 hectare site near to Lanchester, Hall Hill Farm is owned by Jack & Pat Gibson, whose son David runs the working farm and livery and daughter Ann Darlington who manages the Visitor Enterprise.

Over the past 30 years the farm attraction has grown in size and popularity, now welcoming nearly 60,000 visitors every year. I never dreamt how much the business would grow. In the early days we were a working farm, just opening at lambing time so that everyone could see the lambs. Animals and visitors have always been at the heart of this attraction and we have been really touched by the support we have had from the public in both good times and bad, said Ann Darlington, Tourism Manager, Hall Hill Farm.

The popular Playbarn als

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o opened earlier this year providing a fun indoor play area for families to enjoy as well as shelter from the rain or find shade from the sun. This new 150,000 investment in an indoor play area now provides an added attraction, perfect for any rainy days or simply an area for children to let off a bit of steam!

Located next to the outdoor adventure playground, the new Playbarn can accommodate up to 120 children aged 3-12 yrs. In addition there is a separate area for the under 3s. As well as soft play incorporating a 4 lane astraslide the area also is home to the popular pedal tractors.

The Playbarn provides another area for our visitors to enjoy. On the days when it does rain it will be great to have somewhere for the children to keep on playing, said Ann Darlington, Tourism Manager at Hall Hill Farm.

This has been a significant investment for Hall Hill Farm but even after 30 years we are still keen to develop and ensure we are offering our visitors a quality and fun experience.

Tourism in Durham is growing faster than in any other part of North East England according to economic impact figures released last year. The industry supports 11,500 jobs and attracts 18m visitors to County Durham per year. Tourism is a major part of the economy of North East England. It is worth nearly 4bn to the local economy and employs over 65,000 people.

Hall Hill Farm is open weekends in October and daily during half-term 10.30am – 5.00pm. The farm will then close except for Santa Special weekends in December, re-opening in February 2012. You can find Hall Hill Farm on Facebook and Twitter (@HallHillFarm) and at

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