Monday 2 December 2019

Vaal Explorer 2019 Awards - silver!

On Wednesday night, Celliers and I attended the Vaal Explorer 2019 Awards.

Vaal Explorer is a magazine & website, Facebook platform that promotes tourism in the greater Vaal region - from Heidelberg to Venterkroon and Vredefort, including all kinds of little places you've never heard of.

This region is on Jo'burg and Pretoria's doorstep and the offering of places to stay, restaurants and cafes, spas,  activities, operators, galleries, and wedding and conference venues is as good and better than anything you'll get in popular far-flung locations.

This Awards evening was held at the Three Rivers Lodge in Vereeniging - I'd never heard of the place. What a lovely venue it is. The Awards so impressed us for the places and services that won bronze, silver and gold awards. This should be drawn up as a must-visit list in the region of the quality and diversity of the offerings.

Vaal Explorer's Petra Stuart is passionate about tourism and this region and in promoting all that there is out here. Petra and her son Brandon are the people behind Vaal Explorer - they are doing wonders for our region.

We were chuffed to be a nominee for the awards but even more so that we received a silver award.

Although awarded jointly to me and Celliers, this award is certainly a tribute to Celliers' almost two-decade contribution to putting Parys on the map with his acclaimed kayak designs, the creation of his first kayak company and now our company Vagabond Kayaks, which manufactures kayaks in Parys and, the writing of his books 'Run the Rivers of Southern Africa' and 'African Veins'. In the paddling industry and community, this has put Parys, paddling and the tourism elements of the area on the map.

For me, it was inevitable that my two decades spent organising people and events would be carried into the four years that I have lived in Parys. From my Forest Run trail run in the Vredefort Dome to being Event Director for the Parys parkrun and now my kayak-centric focus with Vagabond Kayaks, Paddling Race and Paddle With Us, I'm just getting warmed up.

This award was more in an individual capacity than strictly Vagabond for our proud, individual representation of Parys and all that this town has to offer. Celliers and I are only at the beginning of what we aim to accomplish for our town, community and for the activity of paddling.

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