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Connect Yorkshire EIR Cheryl Williams, a Director of Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF), has been awarded an MBE for her services to business and conservation.

Williams, who lives in Hope Valley in Derbyshire,  has been involved for many years in the zoo community at a national and international level. The run-down business re-opened as Yorkshire Wildlife Park in 2009 after a modest £580,000 investment programme. It is now the 6th most visited zoo and wildlife park in the country, with an international reputation for conservation, animal welfare and visitor experience.

Its rising success is now calculated as adding £2.6m a year to the South Yorkshire economy. It has also created 212 jobs. In 2013, Williams created the YWPF to raise funds for conversation and welfare projects around the world, to date £300,000 has been raised.

Williams said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to have been recognised with this award. Everything that has been achieved so far at Yorkshire Wildlife Park and to make the world a better place for wild animals through the Foundation has been because of the amazing support that we have had.

“I owe a debt of thanks to the team that I work with here at the Park, the Foundation Trustees and supporters and especially my co- founder directors John Minion and Neville Williams.”

YWPF was a key player in a landmark report warning of the increasingly severe impact on animals from shifting weather patterns. In 2016 she was crowned Businesswoman of the Year at the UK Private Business Awards.

The attraction has received several awards, including Yorkshire’s Most Magnificent Attraction 2012 and Visit England Gold Award in 2015 and 2016.

Since 2009, Williams has given her time voluntarily both on the Marketing and PR Committee of the British Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and as Director on the European Council of Zoos and Aquaria.

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