Staff at Gloucester Tourist Information centre were described as the Winner of Winners at the regional industry awards, but the triumph was bitter sweet after the death of a former colleague and mentor.
As well as picking up what was the top accolade of the night at the South West Tourism Awards Gloucester was named centre of the year for its constant commitment to quality, excellence and innovation.
The city centre team beat Bude, Bodmin, Taunton and Purbeck to the top spot at the award ceremony held at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol.
It was a moment to celebrate, but news had also reached the team their former colleague, Victoria Rowan, who helped shape the modern centre and was at the helm for three former tourism award wins, had died on the eve of the event aged just 44.
Tributes have come in thick and fast for the woman who had a big hand in raising the city’s positive profile.
Lise Noakes, Gloucester city council cabinet member for culture and leisure said: “It is with great sadness that we receive the news of Victoria’s passing.
“Vicki worked with Gloucester City Council for over a decade during which time she made a significant contribution to the community, looking after cultural venues including the TIC as well as playing a key role in developing the Rugby World Cup 2015 bid.
“On behalf of the city council and staff I’d like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to her family.”
Ms Rowan live in Glouester. Her roles included group manager of cultural services, economic development manager and tourism manager.
Kelly Ramsay, account director at Cheltenham’s APT Marketing & PR, said: “She has been a personal friend of mine for over 17 years and we met when she became by boss at the TIC in 2000. She left the city council in 2014, but it's fair to say that her legacy lives on.
“The current TIC manager, Lucy Chilton started at the TIC under Victoria in 2005 as a tourism assistant and became TIC manager in 2011.
“Over the last 10 years the team has won over 10 awards, a mixture of regional South West Awards awards and three at national level.
“When Victoria started she was very focused on customer service and providing what the visitor actually wanted. Over the years she made a number of changes, additional staff training with focused KPI's and targets for the team, along with annual customer surveys.
“Lucy has taken on Victoria's legacy and still drives her team to be the best they can be, which has resulted in more awards.”
She added: “Victoria was instrumental in the set-up of Marketing Gloucester, which changed the fortunes of the city, brought businesses together and delivered a number of large scale events which have put Gloucester firmly on the map.
“She was incredibly proud of the team she worked with and would be totally overwhelmed by the win last Thursday, especially the 'winner of winners' award.
“She was a real people person and was a huge support to all of the team she has ever worked with.”
Ben Hau, head of marketing at Marketing Gloucester Ltd, said: “We would like to offer Vicki’s family and friends our sincere condolences. It was incredibly sad to hear of her passing.
“She was a great supporter of Marketing Gloucester and was indeed, instrumental in the formation of the company.
“She laid the groundwork to a lot of the successes that have been achieved including championing Gloucester’s tourism and the city hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
“I know that I speak for employees of Marketing Gloucester past and present in that she will be sorely missed and we will be forever grateful for her support and encouragement.”
Dom Stevens, previous tourism marketing manager for both Gloucester City Council and Marketing Gloucester Ltd, said: “An inspirational boss and a good friend. She had such a positive influence on Gloucester. Will be truly missed.”
Molly Rigsby, previous tourism assistant Gloucester TIC, said: “Such a special woman who made a significant impact on my life.”
Anna Marfell, previous tourism assistant, said: “Always encouraging, supportive and a little bit feisty. She epitomised girl power in a sophisticated subtle way.”
Andrew Mitchell-Stead, previous Events Manager marketing gloucester, now at Peel Holdings (Gloucester Quays), said: “Vicki and I would sometimes meet to try and have a serious meeting, which would quickly degenerate into gossip and laughing.”
Ms Ramsay added: “She had a huge love of live music and regularly attended gigs at the Guildhall, along with various trips to London to see her beloved Foo Fighters!
“She leaves behind her mum and dad, sister Lizzie, brother Max and nephew Sam, who loving referred to her as Auntie Baba.”
Victoria Rowan died on Sunday, January 29, after a long battle with cancer. Her funeral is due to take place near her parents’ home at Church Lench, north of Evesham, on February 15.