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Profiling Emma Fashokun, Unsung Hero award winner at Cornwall Tourism Awards

Posted in News by Lauren Webb on 19th April 2022

The best of Cornish tourism is celebrated annually at the Cornwall Tourism Awards, and this year we were proud to sponsor the Unsung Hero category – recognising an individual working in any aspect of a tourism business who excels in their role and deserves to be applauded for their work and commitment to the industry.

This year’s winner was Emma Fashokun of Cornish Gems, who was nominated for her long standing commitment to sustainability.  Working within her role at Cornish Gems she has championed corporate community responsibility and the plastic free movement.

Jon Cummins, Chair of Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions who run Best Days Out Cornwall, said: “We’re so proud to sponsor this category at the Tourism Awards – our attractions are all about the people who work there, who daily go above and beyond to make sure that people have a wonderful visitor experience, that their colleagues have a smile on their face and that the world is a slightly better place.

“We love the story of Emma and her commitment to sustainability and responsible practices. She’s played an integral part in the journey of Cornish Gems, and we think her work and her commitment are truly wonderful.”

We met with Emma to hear a little bit more of her story. Find out why she is such a worthy award-winner in our interview below!

Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Cornish Gems.

I am originally a fashion and textile designer, although I’ve worked in business and charity roles for many years – and have been with Cornish Gems for 8 ½ years. I’m a passionate sustainability advocate and feel very lucky that I can bring so much of my environmental interest into my role as Guest Experience and Corporate Social Responsibility manager. Lots of my work includes working with local charities, supporting with fundraising and liaising with stakeholders to support our local community. I also am responsible for rolling out our responsible and sustainable core values into every element of the business as well as raising awareness of climate friendly behaviours to our team, guests, and stakeholders.

Why were you nominated for the Unsung Hero Award at the Cornish Tourism Awards?

We’re lucky to have a brilliant team, who’re all working hard to support our sustainability journey – lots of small steps, make great strides!

And in my role, I’ve been able to introduce a wave of positive change – from reducing energy consumption and waste, boosting social involvement, to winning a Green Tourism Award.

We also created a series of new locally sourced guest welcome packs, curated with sustainability front and centre, that also gives our guests the freedom of choice – and helps us support other local companies – to select their own arrival gift, luxury Cornish food & drink hampers, memberships for family days out with the Cornish Heritage Trust, donations to offset the carbon footprint of their holiday, vouchers to spend on sustainable items in the Gems shop (such as the beach towels made from recycled plastic and Gems own wooden belly-boards – designed to encourage guests to #leaveonlyfootprints). 

I also created children’s activity packs, full of fun sustainable items and a personally written and illustrated an activity story book, educating in an engaging way about Cornwall’s coastal landscape, how to enjoy it safely and why we must protect it. 

How did you feel about being shortlisted for the award?

To be honest I was surprised and grateful to have even been nominated, everything I do or achieve with Cornish Gems is never a solo effort. The ethos of the company that comes from the owner-directors allows me to pursue the ideas around sustainability and community whilst losing nothing from the goal of providing the best experience for our guests.

Tell us a bit about your experience of the awards ceremony.

I was surrounded by my Cornish Gems colleagues who all gathered with me in our meeting room, with bottles of bubbly on hand – it was really lovely, although I was more than a little nervous! Everybody cheered and supported me when I won- it did take a little while to sink in though!

What does winning this award mean to you?

For me it means that everything that I as an employee and the company at large have been talking about and striving for thus far on this journey are valid and important to the industry at large also. It’s a great moment to reflect on what we’ve already achieved, and to spur on along our sustainability journey too.

What’s next for you? How does this adventure continue?

Watch this space! There are great and exciting things happening all the time at Cornish Gems, specifically supporting the local economy, landscape and community and we will continue to be the very best that we can.

What tourist attractions do you enjoy visiting and where are you excited to visit soon?

I am so excited about all of them. Revisiting Flambards is certainly going to throw up a whole lot of childhood memories. I have four daughters so I will have to choose my plus one carefully! I have already promised a Bodmin Jail visit to my youngest daughter who is a bit of a history buff!

Where’s your favourite place to visit for a day out in Cornwall – what’s the perfect day out for you?

I am from St Ives and grew up there, so that is always a happy place for me. I do love the Barbara Hepworth museum in particular, with both childhood memories and an artistic interest. I do find it hard to choose just one place though having lived abroad for a number of years I doubly appreciate all that Cornwall is and so I will finish with a list- Tehidy Woods, Lanhydrock House, Mevagissey, Carn Brea, the coastal path to Zennor, Porthkidney Sands, St Agnes, the Great Flat Lode, Falmouth, Pendennis Castle, Penlee House and of course crossing the border from Devon and shouting ‘Oggie, oggie!’

Congratulations once again Emma! We were delighted to celebrate your success with you and can’t wait to hear what you do next.

You can find out more about the other winners at Cornwall Tourism Awards below.