Express & Star

West Midlands canal kayaking tour guide is in the running to be tourism superstar

A guide who leads kayaking canal tours in the heart of Birmingham is in the running for a national award.

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Lily-Rose Sheppard in her kayak

Roundhouse Birmingham’s Lily-Rose Sheppard has been nominated for VisitEngland’s annual Tourism Superstar competition.

The 10 national finalists were chosen from dozens of submissions from employers and destinations across England.

Lily-Rose encourages visitors to explore Birmingham through the city's waterways. Visitors discover Birmingham’s hidden heritage and see its landmarks from a different angle, whilst listening to the history of the city and its canals.

The crown of Tourism Superstar will be decided by a public vote this year run on VisitEngland’s website.

Voting closes at the end of English Tourism Week, which takes place from March 15 to 24.

Vote at

Andrew Lovett, chairman of the West Midlands Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board, said: “The West Midlands is known for its incredible welcome – and a lot of that is down to the knowledge, warmth and effort of the people working in our venues and establishments."

Anna Pickton, operations manager for Roundhouse Birmingham, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Lily-Rose has made the final 10 for VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar competition. Lily-Rose is not only a skilled kayak guide, but a fount of Birmingham knowledge, sharing her passion for the city’s heritage and vibrant culture throughout her tours.

“As a heritage charity about to celebrate the Roundhouse’s 150th anniversary in May, we are extremely proud to have Lily-Rose delivering a weekend of special tours and activities. Her friendliness, patience, positivity and love for sharing Birmingham’s history make her a real guest favourite.

“Lily-Rose’s love of history and her knowledge of Birmingham’s canal network, coupled with the way she helps bring Birmingham’s rich history to life for all guests, makes her a great choice for the VisitEngland Tourism Superstar competition.”

VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “We have the most wonderful people working in our industry and Tourism Superstar is about recognising those individuals who go the extra mile to make visitor experiences truly special.

"Whether discovering a city from its waterways, exploring a destination led by volunteers, running a cycle hire non-profit or showcasing culinary delights with food tours, these individuals truly go above and beyond in their roles as tourism ambassadors."

The West Midlands has a range of notable events and dates to highlight throughout 2024 – including celebrations to mark world-famous Birmingham-based chocolate brand Cadbury’s 200th anniversary.

The British Museum Touring Exhibition will present some of the most compelling up-and-coming names in the field of contemporary drawing between February 10 and May 6 at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Marking the 150th anniversary of its opening, a special event will take place at Walsall Arboretum over the first May bank holiday weekend, alongside exhibitions on the history of the park. Sandwell and Birmingham Mela – the largest South Asian music festival in Europe – returns on July 13 and 14 with some of the biggest artists from the UK and overseas.