Turner Contemporary welcomes its millionth visitor
One lucky visitor to The Turner Contemporary Gallery has become its millionth guest today - well ahead of schedule.
The Margate attraction, which opened just over two years ago, had originally forecast 300,000 visitors in the first two years.
That milestone has now already been smashed, with the gallery also bringing in £21m into the local economy since it opened in April 2011.
Sue Lewis is presented with her wine as the millionth visitor
The One in a Million stand at the venue
Since then, high-profile visitors such as Her Majesty the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron have visited and given their seal of approval.
Now Sue Lewis, from Saltwood in Hythe, has taken the honour of being the one millionth visitor to the popular attraction.
The grandmother of 10 was surprised at the welcome when she turned up at the venue with husband John and pal Douglas Hogg from Wales.
As part of her "prize" Sue takes home 20 bottles of Chapel Down wine.
- Sue Lewis, after becoming the millionth visitor
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And it will come in handy - the 69-year-old is celebrating her golden wedding anniversary in October!
Speaking after the presentation, Sue said she was "gobsmacked".
She added: "It can't believe it really. It's embarrassing.
"We were just asked if we would stop for a moment and I thought 'oh, yeah, here we go - security. They're going to look in our handbags', and as we had only just been joking about it, they said 'you are the millionth visitors' ".
Key exhibits, such as Rodin's The Kiss, orginal Turner artwork and the Horniman gallery's famous stuffed walrus have taken pride of place at the seafront venue.
Mike Hill, Kent County Council's cabinet member for community services, welcomed the milestone.
He said: "We are tremendously proud of the success to date of Turner Contemporary.
The Queen visited the gallery in 2011
The huge entrance area at the gallery
Tracey Emin is a staunch supporter of the gallery
The gallery is an iconic building
Summer family activities at Turner Contemporary
"A million visitors is an exciting achievement and we congratulate the Turner Contemporary Trust and the gallery director on reaching this figure.
"We were determined to keep to our promise and build a landmark building which would boost the area and be a catalyst for regenerating east Kent."
He said the gallery had created jobs, encouraged new businesses to the town and will go on to be a lasting legacy to driving the development of the county.
Turner Contemporary director Victoria Pomery said it was brilliant to see the town buzzing once more.
She said: "The gallery has made a real difference to the local economy and has helped to change perceptions about Margate.
"There are more new businesses opening in the Old Town and on the High Street.
"With almost a million new visitors to Margate, the town is beginning to thrive."
Key Turner Contemporary facts
The millionth visitor will make it one of the most visited galleries outside the capital
The £21m invested in the economy represents £6 return on every £1 invested
More than 40,000 visitors have come through schools, family and community programmes
Around 28,000 visitors had never been to an art gallery before
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