Olivia Thackstone – A Tourism Superstar In The Making

Olivia Thackstone – A Tourism Superstar In The Making

Olivia is the Front of House Manager at World of Wedgwood. Her role is to manage, lead and inspire the Front of House team to welcome all visitors to World of Wedgwood and give them a premium experience.

A true ambassador for Wedgwood, Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries, Olivia has recently been shortlisted for the Mirror Travel and VisitEngland’s 2020 Tourism Superstar award – a high profile, national industry award. Her back story tells us why.

Olivia’s Story

Olivia was raised in the tourism and hospitality industry in the guest house run by her parents in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Little did she know how much that would influence her career and provide her with such passion for The Potteries. Growing up and meeting people from all walks of life opened her eyes to diverse cultures, trades and personalities. Guests staying at her childhood home ranged from doctors working at the local hospital to Australian families visiting the area. Often, she would think to herself: “Why would anyone want to visit my city?”

Olivia is a first generation “Stokie”. She didn’t follow a traditional academic route at school but she could talk non-stop about saggarmakers’ bottom-knockers, downdraughts and dippers as well as how bottle kilns work. She later found an aptitude for guiding friends and relatives around local attractions.

Seeking a job that combined her interest in history, art and leadership, she started an apprenticeship in the hotel industry where she learned the art of hospitality from her first manager, who nicknamed her “the local guidebook”.

But this didn’t satisfy her hunger for history so, at the age of 23, she started a Blue Badge Guide course for the Heart of England. Being the youngest participant, she describes the experience today as the hardest but best thing she ever did.

On completing the course, Olivia quickly found a position as Tour Guide at World of Wedgwood, where she was not only surrounded by beautiful objects rich in history but was also able to share her knowledge with visitors who consistently passed comment on her passion for Wedgwood and The Potteries. She also found time to master the potter’s wheel!

Olivia is a natural with children - running community groups since she was 18, she has the knack of being able to keep them engaged by “spinning a good yarn”.  She can thank the story of Josiah Wedgwood’s leg amputation for her next promotion. Her boss overheard her telling the story to a group of children and noticed how captivated they were as she described how Josiah survived “having his leg chopped off whilst being conscious”. She duly got the role of Education and Events Officer working closely with the V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood (formerly the Wedgwood Museum).

Now, Olivia inspires and leads her own team as Front of House Manager. Because of Josiah, Olivia and her team live and breathe Wedgwood. He is the reason for Olivia’s passion and epitomises what it means to her to be from Stoke-on-Trent. Born to a family of potters, Josiah always strived to become the best he could. Olivia lives by that rule and motivates her team to be the best and to inspire visitors with his story.

Looking back at her childhood question: “Why would anyone want to visit my city?” - Olivia now says “Why not?” She explains: “No other city is named after its main industry - The Potteries. No other’s name has graced the table of the world’s Kings and Queens, and no other has people quite like us. From the smoke and fire of the furnaces and bottle ovens, objects of beauty were delicately crafted. It’s where people are born with coal in their blood and their feet in clay. Where “Ay up ducks” and “Asta thee ‘ad a gooden” are comforting phrases passing through the lips of jolly potters and jiggers.”

The vote for the Mirror Travel and VisitEngland’s 2020 Tourism Superstar award is now open to the general public. If you’d like to support Olivia, please watch her video and cast your vote here