Almost 1000 customer nominations, a shortlist of 12 and an afternoon of deliberating by our judging panel has come down to this - the results of our 2014 Explore Leader Awards!
As ever, the outstanding work that our Explore Leaders all do made it extremely hard to choose just one winner. However, we are extremely proud to announce that:
The winner of our 2014 Explore Leader Awards is Nepal's Sudarshan KC.
This is not Sudarshan's first time featuring in these awards. He is consistently on the shortlist and last year he was awarded the title of Trekking Leader of the Year, having been a runner-up a previous year.
The judges said: "Su was chosen because, despite having won before and having always been shortlisted, he continues to perform every year. Customer comments were truly heartfelt, had 'depth of feeling' and people had taken a lot of time to write them. He also has the ability to be equally as effective on any tour in any country he leads in such as India and Bhutan."
You said: "Sudarshan was an exceptional Tour Leader with an immense knowledge of Nepal. He looked after the group incredibly well. He was always available and nothing was ever too much trouble for him to sort out - his whole priority was to ensure everyone in the group had what they needed and was okay. He did everything with a huge beaming smile that could melt the heart of any tourist. Sudarshan was responsible for making an incredible trip an exceptionally memorable one. His devotion to the job is second to none. An incredible person with a very warm heart and a huge personality. The world could do with more people like him. If anyone deserves this award, it's Sudarshan."
Following close behind Sudarshan are our three runners-up. They are:
Abishek Chordia from India
The judges said
:"He is high energy and dynamic and breaks peoples preconceived notions about India.
"Abi was the perfect leader. He was well informed, sensitive to the culture and history of India/Nepal and also to the needs and interests of the group. Nothing was too much trouble. Abi was a key part in the success of this great experience, fun, polite, extremely helpful, efficient and professional. His attention to detail and aim to please us in so many ways was brilliant. He deserves the award. What an asset to your organisation
Firat Solak from Turkey
The judges said:"Both the quantity and quality of votes are impressive
"Firat did an excellent job. He is extremely well-organised, cheerful and patient and has a very good sense of humour. His knowledge of the history and culture of Turkey left us entranced by this wonderful country. Thanks to Firat, we had a great time and have come home to very happy memories.
Nilton Carrillo from Peru
The judges said:
"The customer testimonials are really heartfelt
"He was absolutely outstanding. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Nilton was a walking example of the generosity and spirit of the Inca people. He passed on his love for his country, as well as being hugely knowledgeable about the country. He was incredibly well organised, but didn't make us feel that we were being organised. We knew exactly what was happening when, and his attention to detail was outstanding. He was also fun to be with, and a genuinely nice person. I could think of no one better to represent Explore and its ideals
Find out who won the 2014 Deepen Rai Outstanding Achievement Award.
The judging panel
The people who had the unenviable task of choosing the winners from the outstanding pool of Tour Leader talent were:
Ashley Toft, Explore Managing Director
Bryan Tomalin, Explore's most travelled customer
John Telfer, Explore Product Director
Polly Davies, founder of Marco Polo Travel
Margaret McEwan, Explore Head of Customer Relations
They were ably assisted on the day by Explore Operations Managers Yvonne Ramsay and Naomi Jackson.