Slideshow: Leeds’s venues toasted at awards night

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Back room talents driving the city’s multi-million pound hotel and venue industry have been celebrated at a black tie awards ceremony.

Once more the Leeds Hotels and Venues Association’s Awards pushed the best behind-the-scenes personalities into the limelight in recognition of their contribution to the £170m-a-year industry.

Winner of the Unsung Hero Award Chris Allen of Royal Armouries International.

Winner of the Unsung Hero Award Chris Allen of Royal Armouries International.

Winners were announced at a glamorous dinner held at Leeds Marriott Hotel in the city centre.

And now we can reveal who won, including the YEP-backed Unsung Hero 2011, as voted for by you in our online poll.

Chris Allen, operations manager at Royal Armouries International Plc, captured your hearts winning the majority of the 1,500 votes cast for the shortlist of 14.

The 32-year-old, who started at the venue 10 years ago, has worked his way up from waiter to being in charge of floats, change, banking and stock for the venue’s bars.

On his win, Chris said: “It feels great to be recognised, and that so many people voted for me.

“There were a lot of people on the shortlist from the big chains and we are just a small company so it was a complete shock and emotional.”

Paul Napier, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said: “There was a record number of entries received for this year’s Unsung Hero category, and the shortlist of 14 was the strongest we have seen yet.

“Each and everyone of those who made it through to the public vote stage are a real credit to their individual hotel or venue.

“They make the industry in this city what it is – a multi-million pound success, but there can of course only be one winner.

“Chris Allen has worked exceptionally hard to get where he is today, and his employer, colleagues and friends clearly all recognised that.”

The LHVA awards were first launched in 2008.

Collectively, the Association looks after 5,000 of the city’s bedrooms, employs 3,500 staff and turns over £170 million each year.

A record number of nominations flooded in from all 34 LHVA members for the seven categories in recognition of the staff they say make a difference. A judging panel of leading figures from the city’s business, tourism and media sectors, chose the winners of the remaining six categories. They were:

* Bright Idea – Dawn Turner of Well Met Conferencing;

* Leeds Live it, Love it – Carnegie Village of Well Met Conferencing;

* Rising Star – Lucy Heaton of Leeds Marriott;

* Top Team – the housekeeping team at Hilton Leeds City;

* Exceptional Customer Service – Janet McAteer at Hilton Leeds City;

* Mentor Award – Sharon Burrows, Royal Armouries International.

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