THREE Dorset attractions and businesses are finalists in categories in the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2020 – including a west Dorset pub and Dorchester museum.

The Visit England Awards for Excellence champion the very best of the country's tourism industry, celebrating quality, innovation and best practice. The three Dorset attractions all won their category in local tourism competitions and were put through to the national competition as a result.

The Three Horseshoe Pub in Burton Bradstock is a finalist in the Pub of the Year category against pubs in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Co-owner Hannah Schep, who owns the pub with her husband Jaap, is shocked to be in the final.

She said: "We are still trying to get our heads around it. When we won the South West competition we couldn't believe that and to know that we are in the final three of the national one we are just so excited.

"It would mean everything for us to win, especially after the last three months, and to have that amazing piece of good news would make it all worthwhile."

Dorchester's Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum is in the final in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category. The museum is battling it out against the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Staffordshire and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Somerset.

Helen Cowley, marketing officer for the museum, said: "We are really excited to be in the final, it is great news. I think we are in the final because we offer something so unique here. We are not stuffy like other museums and visitors are always happy with the experience they have. It would be great to win, especially at a time like this with the pandemic."

Durlston Country Park in Swanage has made it to the final in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award category and is hoping to win gold against fellow finalists the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Mylor Sailing and Powerboat School in Cornwall.

Ali Tuckey, project leader for the Durlston pleasure grounds project, was blown away when he got the news that the park was in the final. He said: "I jumped out of my chair in excitement. We are up against some tough competition and they are both also doing brilliant stuff so it doesn't really matter who wins although it would be fantastic for us.

"I come from a family where some people have disabilities and I remember the battles we used to face to get out in the countryside so it would be amazing to shout about the fact that you can come to some of the most amazing countryside in the UK here in Dorset.

"Durlston is such a fantastic place and we want as many people as possible to come and enjoy it as visitors and volunteers."