One of Weymouth's most popular tourist spots has been named the 'best small visitor attraction' in England 

Last night, Nothe Fort won Gold for 'Best Small Visitor Attraction' at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

This prestigious award was given to Victorian coastal defence fort after it had claimed the same award for the south west region in March.

Since then the nominees have been through a further round of national judging leading to the announcement of national winners today, Thursday, June 6.

READ: Acorn Inn & Nothe Fort South West Tourism winners 2024

Winning the award has left the team at Nothe Fort 'ecstatic' and full of pride.

Nothe Fort chairman, James Farquharson, said: "The whole team were ecstatic.  

"This award fills our team, our visitors and our community of Weymouth and Dorset with pride."

Nothe Fort events manager Emma Murtgatroyd (C) with building manager Garth Langton and Amanda Evans front of house manager bottom rightNothe Fort events manager Emma Murtgatroyd (C) with building manager Garth Langton and Amanda Evans front of house manager bottom right (Image: South West Tourism)

The news comes as the fort is experiencing record number of visitors in the first three months of the year and is on course to beat last year's record total of visitors.

Mr Farquharson added: "While Nothe Fort is very important to Weymouth’s tourism industry, it isn’t simply a tourist attraction. 

"The site connects our community to the people who came before us, particularly those who served in the military.

"We, as its custodians, have a responsibility to make the story of their lives accessible to our visitors and pass the fort on to the next generation as a well conserved and thriving entity. 

"This award acknowledges that we are achieving those things to an exemplary level."

The fort is today playing host to an array of D-Day commemorative events and has an exhibition inside the fort. 

At 4pm a military vehicle convoy will arrive.

READ: Nothe Fort and Weymouth Town Council mark D-Day anniversary

Dorset also celebrated a second award with the Acorn Inn picking up a silver award in the pub category.

The pub in Evershot is run by Richard and Natalie Legg and is no stranger to accolades having been named  among one of the cosiest seasonal stays for 2024  from Red Magazine.

It was also named as a finalist in this year's prestigious Trencherman awards.

Richard said: "We are absolutely delighted to win Silver for Best Pub in England, we are so happy and proud of the incredible Acorn team for all the hard work they put in everyday.

"Plus a big thank you to all our guests for their support."

Robin Barker from South West awards organisers services for Tourism, added: “It was a delight to share in the success of an astounding group of tourism businesses. Their commitment to excellence, sustainability, accessibility and customer service is a testament to their whole teams, whether managers, front of house staff, cleaners or volunteers.”

The 2024/25 awards are currently open for entry with a deadline of June 23.  South West businesses are encouraged to enter in their county schemes, with the chance of going on to national success.