Here are the 2023 finalists of a very special annual award that highlights the amazing experiences and memories that brilliant group travel organisers create for their members.  


Since the first recipient back in 1999, this prestigious accolade has been the highlight of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards, which are Britain’s only national awards for group travel. It has helped to highlight so many people making a huge difference to the lives of others.

The winner of the award takes home a prize of £2,000 to spend on a holiday to remember. 


The winner for 2023 is…

… Mary Gotts, GOTT 2 TRAVEL

Mary has been a group travel organiser for more than 15 years and recently set up her own group taking people all over the UK and overseas. Each year she organises a number of short breaks in the UK alongside a programme of European and long-haul holidays. 

Describing her group as “young-minded, active, fun-loving people who love to travel”, Mary said that Italy and India are among the most popular destinations for her 250 plus members. 

GTO of the Year finalist Mary Gotts and a picture of the Taj Mahal in India, one of her favourite destinations

India is one of the most popular destinations for Mary’s group - with plans to return in the future. 

She believes that doing your homework and being prepared are key qualities as a group travel organiser in addition to having patience and a good sense of humour. 

She clearly loves what she does and told us: “The most rewarding part is seeing the faces of my members, excited, smiling and to hear them say it has been amazing, far beyond what they expected and that they’ve fulfilled a lifelong dream and made lovely new friends.

“I love seeing their faces ache with laughter, especially those who have lost partners and thought they wouldn’t travel again but now have found a new confidence. It’s also very rewarding to see the enthusiasm to do even more trips with me - there is no price to put on this.” 


Congratulations to the three other amazing finalists…

Andy Hine, The Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain

Over an incredible 35 years, Andy has taken more than 20,000 people to theme parks all over the world – there have even been 20 marriages from members who have met each other in the group, united by their love of roller coasters.

The idea to create the club came from a childhood love of theme parks and with 1,400 current members, Andy shows no sign of slowing down. He’s always finding new destinations for his group and is often the first to know about new rides.

GTO of the Year finalist Andy Hine and a picture of his group at a theme park

GTO Andy Hine says his group describe him as ‘Coaster crazy’; he has taken thousands of people all over the world, united by their love of roller coasters. 

He told us that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the most popular place for his members. For their annual trip, he gets an average attendance of 400+ and organises entertainment in addition to the riding. Ohio in the USA is also a key destination as it has some of the most famous roller coasters in the world. 

With his extensive experience, Andy believes that patience, friendliness and being approachable are key qualities for a GTO, adding: “It will always be someone’s first trip with the group and first impressions count - I now have third generation members as a result.”

And the most rewarding aspect? “Knowing that if I hadn’t started the club 35 years ago none of my group would have had some of the experiences they have. Standing on a roller coaster station and watching them smiling as the train leaves makes all the hard work (and stress) worthwhile.”

A big thank you to the judging panel for this year’s GTO of the Year® Award:

  • Alan Rennie, business development manager - groups, Ambassador Cruise Line. Alan said he was inspired by hearing from the 2023 finalists adding that it was a clearly a “real source of pride” for each of them. He said: “It was so wonderful to hear about some of the journeys they had been on.”

  • Dave Hartle, Dave’s Trips, 2022 GTO of the Year®. Dave said what impressed him about this year’s finalists was: “Each of them had a unique personality as a GTO and catered to the needs within their own group. This was very clearly felt.”

  • Chris Taylor, Wey Valley Theatre and Travel Club, 2016 GTO of the Year®. Chris said she still remembers the “thrill of receiving the award” years later. She added: “I felt a real sense of pride and it was lovely to be rewarded for years and years of so much hard work.”

  • Keeley Rodgers, editor of Group Leisure & Travel, and Rob Yandell, publisher of Group Leisure & Travel, completed the 2023 judging panel. 

Linda Hubbard, Bexley Civic Society

Linda’s role as a GTO spans 20 years and she’s always on the hunt for something a bit different for her members, organising visits to the likes of food factories, art exhibitions and more.

She told us: “To see everyone enjoying themselves and know that outings and holidays have been successful is the most rewarding part. I absolutely love being a GTO and try to make the most of everything we’re doing.”

GTO of the Year finalist Linda Hubbard with members during a visit to Pisa, Italy

Linda (pictured far right) has taken members of the Bexley Civic Society all over including memorable places in Italy. 

Over the years Linda has covered a number of destinations in the UK and Europe including Scotland, Ireland and Italy. Promoting trips and tours via the group’s quarterly newsletter and website, Linda does a lot of research ahead of each visit she arranges, making sure she’s fully clued up on where they are going and what’s going to be important for her group. 

When asked about the skills and qualities she’d consider most important in her role as a GTO, Linda said: “Being friendly, well organised and offering members good quality outings and holidays at well-negotiated prices. It’s also important to have a good working relationship with our coach company and drivers.”

“Do not panic if something should go wrong or have a ‘hitch’ - just work calmly through such situations. Panic does not help solve anything.”

The Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award® 2023 is partnered by Ambassador Cruise Line.

Ambassador Cruise Line logo

Ambassador sails for the British market from London Tilbury with a focus on premium-value. Its first ship, Ambience, set sail from Tilbury in April 2022 on an ex-UK no-fly range of voyages. Ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, entered service in May 2023, carrying 1,200 guests in 714 cabins, with ten guest decks.

She will operate itineraries from London Tilbury as well as cruises from six UK regional departure ports, including Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

Find out more


Richard Preston, The Valentine Club

There are now 100 members (plus a waiting list) of the Oxfordshire club, thanks to Richard’s hard work as a group travel organiser over 19 years. Instead of, in his words, “playing bingo and moaning”, his members now look forward to exciting coach trips and enjoyable entertainment, as well as short break holidays.

GTO of the Year finalist Richard Preston with some of his group during a visit to Poole

Richard Preston’s group enjoy a variety of day trips and holidays around the UK.

River trips and steam train experiences are popular with his group and Richard generally includes a meal during each outing so his members can enjoy socialising. Just some of their visits this year have included Salisbury, the National Space Centre in Leicester, the National Memorial Arboretum, Middle Aston House, Bournemouth and a cruise on the Thames from Henley, 

They have also recently been on a holiday to the Isle of Wight which Richard said his members thoroughly enjoyed. 

Receiving feedback from his group, Richard said: “My group are so appreciative and pleased to go on the trips. They don’t have to do anything, just hand over a bit of money prior to the trip and then they haven’t got a care in the world.

“The most rewarding aspect is being able to help people who might otherwise be isolated and alone and seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces as they get off the coach.”

Congratulations to all the 2023 finalists.

The Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award® is presented annually as part of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards.

The 2023 ceremony took place on Wednesday 4th October at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Milton Keynes.

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