Volunteers and staff of the Warwick Visitor Information Centre, which won VIC of the Year at the awards ceremony in Townsville, accepted by supervisor Charee Aspinall.
Volunteers and staff of the Warwick Visitor Information Centre, which won VIC of the Year at the awards ceremony in Townsville, accepted by supervisor Charee Aspinall.

Warwick Visitor Centre a winner

THEIR job is answering questions from inquisitive visitors, promoting their home to out-of-towners and welcoming treechangers with open arms.

They’re the volunteers and staff of the Warwick Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and whatever they’re doing it’s proving to be a winner after being named VIC of the Year at an awards ceremony in Townsville.

Longest-serving volunteer Jean Frankland has answered her fair share of wacky questions in her 25 years.

“I’ll never forget the cyclist who came in with his tight lycra complaining of terrible cramps and asking me to point him in the direction of the nearest hospital for a massage,” Mrs Frankland laughed.

“I was a lot younger then and I just looked at him and said ‘shut the door’ – the look on his face was priceless; I told him where the hospital was of course.”

The camaraderie between the volunteers as they laughed and shared their experiences was an indication of why they give up their time and enjoy what they do day after day, like Ian McMahon, a volunteer of eight years.

“One woman once came in and asked where the Darling River was – she became very irate when I told her nowhere near here,” Mr McMahon recalled.

“She said ‘this is the Darling Downs, it should be where the Darling River is’ – you’d swear it was I who set the wretched place up,” he quipped.

One thing they have in common is their praise for supervisor Charee Aspinall, who accepted the award at the Mercure Inn, Townsville, on Thursday night.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting us to win – we were up against some pretty fierce competition with Brisbane and Gold Coast VICs,” Mrs Aspinall told the Daily News from Townsville yesterday.

“Those larger centres have a lot of funding so to come out on top was fantastic – it was the first time throughout the whole conference I was speechless,” she laughed.

The award ceremony was part of the week-long Queensland Information Centre Association Conference, which Mrs Aspinall has been participating in all kinds of activities to improve our VIC.

“There is about 100 delegates from all across Queensland and there has been guest speakers, interaction with Tourism Queensland representatives and it’s just a really great opportunity to network with other VICs,” she said.

“The knowledge I have gained while here has been invaluable.”

As for her 16 volunteers, it seems the admiration is mutual.

“They are probably the main reason we’ve done what we’ve done and won this award – they’re fantastic,” Mrs Aspinall said.

“Part of the prize is $1000 – I have a few ideas for the VIC but I need to speak to the volunteers to get their thoughts.

“This award just really shows how we are all contributing to a better tourism information centre and providing the best for our visitors.”



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