One of Exmouth’s top tourist attractions has beaten Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers at a national awards ceremony.

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Just a week after Stuart Line Cruises, started by the late Tony Stuart almost 50 years ago, was awarded the Tourism and Leisure Award at the Exmouth Business Awards, they were named as runners-up in the National Coach Tourism Awards.

Now run by his son Ian, Tony started up his business in the late 1960s with Seacrest – a small 52-seat vessel that he operated from the clock tower.

But by the time he retired in 1992, he had built up an impressive business – adding the Exonian to his burgeoning fleet of boats and spawning three generations of sea skippers.

All three of Tony’s children, Ian, Liane and Gary, and two of his five grandchildren, Lyndsey and Jake, have worked as skippers in the family firm.

Last week the Stuarts went to Blackpool and Ian Stuart said: “It was a big awards ceremony, and to come runner-up with some of the biggest attractions in the country was a real achievement.

“We beat Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers.

“It really highlights to us and our staff that the people of Exmouth love what we are doing.

“Just to be nominated in a national award ceremony is the icing on the cake.”

Philippa Stuart said: “We were up against some big names, Alton Towers, Cadbury World and Spinnaker Tower were just three of the seven nominations. To be marked in the same league as these is a great achievement.”

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