Alan Armstrong, partner at the Brunlea Travel Group in Lancashire, was given a standing ovation as he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Travel Network Group’s conference in Budapest (March 23).

Receiving his award, an emotional Alan watched the screen to hear tributes paid by fellow members of his local Rotary club, and colleagues from the Worldchoice agency, which has two branches, in Burnley and Carnforth.

“I was stunned – it was lovely to see them all on the screen,” said Alan.

“I’ve had lots of great staff over the years, and I was joined on stage by (area manager) Scott Harrison, who’s been with me for 32 years – he’s my right-hand man.”

He began his career in 1980 working for Pendle Travel – owned by travel entrepreneur and Airtours founder David Crossland.

In 1982, Alan set up Brunlea Travel with Bryan Fergus, who has now stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business.

The name of the agency is taken from the Roman name for Burnley.

In 1996, the agency became part of Worldchoice, which Alan said was a boon for business, supporting them through tough economic times.

He said Worldchoice’s membership of The Travel Network Group over the past 10 years ago has helped even more.

“They give us great marketing support and always find the answers for us,” said Alan.

“It was good to hear at the conference about the upgrade to the dynamic packaging system Honeycomb, as that is another bonus for us and helps us to compete.”

Announcing the honour, the consortium’s chief executive Gary Lewis described him as “a national treasure”, adding: “He has so many friends within our group and everyone who comes into contact with this member feels inspired by his passion for life and all things travel.

“His work ethic is impressive and infectious to those around him.

“His care for others has flourished, with his relentless work for charity over many, many years.”

Alan joined the Rotary Club of Burnley Pendleside about 18 years ago and plays a key role, including a year as president.

He has helped to organise fundraising events such as the annual Pendle pub walk which raises about £100,000 each year for a local hospice.

At Christmas time, he dresses as Santa to raise funds, which go towards local causes, such as a charity for young carers, as well as overseas organisations.

“It’s a lot of work but I do like to give something back,” said Alan.

“And I don’t want to stop working completely – I would be bored.”