Three Cheers for Wally
Last night was an incredible evening as Walter Combstock, Duke owner and Managing Director received the Lifetime Achievement at the Herald’s City and Waterfront Awards. We could not have been prouder! The black tie event celebrated so many fantastic businesses that make up our diverse and vibrant city and we were thrilled to be part of the celebrations. Plymouth Pavilions looked stunning and the atmosphere in the room was electric. Our table of 10 sat and enjoyed proceedings, whilst a few of us secretly knew what was to come. The final award of the night, presented by the Herald’s Editor, Paul Burton saw the audience enjoy a short film revealing Wally as the winner and some of our team had their opportunity to share some words of what makes Wally wonderful…
When asked how he felt about winning, Wally replied:
“I found the whole experience very humbling, but also feel the award was as much for The Duke as myself!”
We feel that this sums up what an amazing person Wally is and how deserving he is of the award!
We thought we’d give you a little more insight into Wally’s journey with the Duke.
Wally and Jon (Jonathan Morcom) completed a management buyout back in 2001 with two other Directors at the time. On the 7th December 2016 they will be celebrating 15 years of ownership, but Wally’s history with the Duke goes much further back. At just 17yrs old Wally stepped into the hotel for the first time, as an apprentice Electrician, eventually being promoted to Maintenance Manager and then finally Buildings and Refurbishment Manager. Over the years he has played many parts and we know that there is no one who knows the hotel better. Every room, corridor, cellar and life shaft(!) he knows like the back of his hand and his love of the building runs deep. Back in May we dedicated a blog post to Wally, take a read for an interview with him and an insight into the refurbishment of the hotel ‘Restoration, Walter and Many Rolls of Wallpaper’
Jon and Wally have watched the Duke develop under their leadership, Jon said:
“Wally led the management buyout and was the perfect person to be made Managing Director. His passion for the hotel and the fabric of the building was inspiring and has been ever since. Wally is in the hotel every day, so is always on hand if there are any problems. He empowers the team to run the hotel but with the security that he is available should they wish to ask for any support. Wally and I feel we are both proud custodians of this fantastic building and honoured to have the team we do working for us”.
When we asked Wally what his end goal was for the hotel, he said
“The goal is always to bring it back to its former glory, but it won’t ever have an ending – there is always something to do and change and update so that the hotel is delivering the first class, luxury service and comfort as it has for the past 153 years.”
Wally’s passion and commitment to the hotel is just incredible. No one knows the building inside and out like he does and we all appreciate his hard work in maintaining one of the most stunning, iconic buildings in Devon. Last night it was humbling to see the entire audience of nearly 600 guests rise to their feet and give Wally the standing ovation that he deserves.
We’d like to thank the Herald and all of the team behind the City and Waterfront Awards for a tremendous evening and Sarah Gibson and John Walton from both bids who have always supported The Duke.
Congratulations to all of the nominees and of course the winners!
For Wally and the Duke – we can’t wait to see what is next!