Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, is a finalist for the Lancashire Tourism Superstar awards


University of Sheffield Professor is Tourism Superstar finalist

University of Sheffield Professor is Tourism Superstar finalist

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, is a finalist for the Lancashire Tourism Superstar awards as voted by the public.

Championing Lancashire's coastal towns

Vanessa is known locally in her home town of Morecambe and her adopted town of Blackpool as Professor Vanessa. 

She has been nominated as a Tourism Superstar for championing the importance of Lancashire’s coastal towns and showcasing the beauty, talent and history of the seaside and seasiders through her writing, TV appearances and hands-on support.

Inspired by her work as a historian

Vanessa's childhood times at the Winter Gardens Fairground in Morecambe, operated by her family, inspired her career as a historian of entertainment. This passion led her to work for seven years in Blackpool as Creative Producer of Showzam Blackpool Festival of Circus Magic and New Variety where she brought back the sideshows, instigated Showzam Central as a free attraction for thousands of locals and holiday makers alike and set up the celebrated Carnival Ball in the Blackpool Tower.

Her work as a historian led to international recognition for the iconic Blackpool Winter Gardens which was the subject of the first of her four books on Blackpool’s unique heritage and cultural attractions – followed by the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Tower and the Illuminations. Vanessa has returned to her seaside town to become Chair of the Winter Gardens Theatre in Morecambe and with the Friends and the Trustees instigated a series of changes which is transforming the building which this year alone has attracted 20,000 visitors, showcased events and partnered with Vintage by the Sea and Eden North. 

"My workplace is one of courage, bravery, inspiration and collaboration - and that’s what makes it possible to be fearless," says Vanessa. "The University values creativity and diversity, and encourages maverick ideas and flights of fantasy into reality. Where else could I engage, be inspired and help make such a difference to the community other than here?”

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