Topsail Charters won a Highly Commended Award at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence earlier this week

Essex-based Topsail Charter  won a Highly Commended Award in the Best Small Attraction category at the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015 earlier this week.

The charter company, based in Maldon, was rewarded for its contribution to British tourism when they received their award at a glittering ceremony on 11 May.

Topsail run a fleet of four historic sailing barges based between Maldon and Ipswich with a combined age of 435.

Customers can enjoy a river cruise usually accompanied with lunch or afternoon tea or join special interest cruises, with popular highlights including Clacton Air Show, local history cruises, following barge races or bird watching

VisitEngland’s chief executive James Berresford said” “It is a great achievement to win a Highly Commended Award in a field of very high quality applications.

“This Award places Topsail Charters in the top five businesses for excellence in their category in England. I warmly congratulate them on this achievement.”

Meanwhile Topsail managing director Stephanie Valentine said: “We are delighted to win this recognition and would like to thank our staff for all the hard work and commitment they show in giving our customers a fantastic and memorable sailing barge experience.”

The award is Topsail’s second success of the week, with National Historic Ships designating their sailing barge Thistle as a Regional Flagship of the Year.

Thistle is celebrating 120 years afloat and this prestigious award is in recognition of her impressive public programme around the river and coast of East Anglia.

Topsail skipper and owner Paul Jefferies said: “We’re delighted that the role historic ships play in the tourism market has been recognised in this way.

“We carry thousands of passengers and they play a vital role in helping keep these vessels afloat and sailing.

“The Topsail barges are an important part of our national maritime heritage, and these two awards will really help spread the word about who we are and what we do.”