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Arboretum awarded Gold Accolade!

26 February 2015

The Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt has been awarded a Gold Accolade by VisitEngland, the country’s leading tourism body. 

This accolade has been received as part of VisitEngland’s Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme.

Westonbirt Arboretum is one of only eleven visitor attractions in the country to achieve this high level recognition.

After a mystery visit by staff from Visit England and rigorous investigation, Westonbirt has been classed as having an ‘extremely enjoyable visitor experience’, with the new developments on-site providing visitors with a better welcome and considerably improving the admissions process.

Paul Cody, Head of Visitor Attraction at Westonbirt commented:

“We are really thrilled to have been awarded the Gold Accolade from Visit England. We are committed to delivering a high level visitor experience here at Westonbirt and this award highlights the hard work that has gone into both improving site layout and visitor engagement and information. The staff will definitely be celebrating!”

The VisitEngland Gold Accolade will soon be highlighted on-site and across Westonbirt’s online channels.

For more information visit or


1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains nearly 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Further information can be found at

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985 by a small group of volunteers. Today it raises money to help protect and preserve the arboretum, enhance public enjoyment and knowledge of this world renowned tree collection and secure its sustainable future. The charity raises funds through a membership scheme with over 27,000 Friends, fundraising activities and the hire of the Great Oak Hall.  The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at  

4. The Westonbirt Project will make a big difference to everybody who comes to the arboretum. The project will mean a better welcome, a better visit and a better understanding of the heritage and importance of this world class tree collection. More information can be found at

5. About VisitEngland Accolades:
VisitEngland accolades are available to attractions that are part of the Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme and are allocated through a scoring system based on an annual assessment by VisitEngland. They include the Welcome accolade, Hidden Gem, Best Told Story, Quality Café and the Gold accolade for top-scoring attractions. Two rounds of accolades will be announced each year. Recipients will receive a certificate and a logo to display on their website.
6. About the Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme:
The Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme is managed by VisitEngland and, through its network of regional assessors, boasts an incredible reputation for instigating, modifying and shaping change to the customer experience at visitor attractions across England. Following successful trials in 1998 in the South West and then in the East of England, the Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme was officially taken centrally by the National Tourist Board in 2007.  The scheme encourages participants to make the Scheme work for them as a management tool. Industry support has been consistently strong with participants eager to take on board the recommendations of their local assessor. Any questions or queries regarding the scheme can be emailed to


Emily Pryor, Communications Manager, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 0300 067 4851 or email:

What's of interest

Westonbirt Arboretum Welcome Building

Image: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum credit Pete Thompson for Forestry Commission.

Useful sites

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.