DESPITE record-breaking bad weather and people choosing to stay at home to watch the Olympics, the Heart of Devon has gone from strength to strength by raking in a phenomenal number of awards and accolades in 2012.

The bar was set in June when the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) won ‘Museum of the Year 2012' as well as a £100,000 Art Fund Prize for its redevelopment project.

Elsewhere, museum specialists The Benbow Group in partnership with designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates and Exeter City Council picked up the prestigious 2012 National Association of Shopfitters Design Partnership award for the stunning displays at RAMM. RAMM's architects Allies and Morrison have been shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards 2012 and the museum has also been shortlisted for the National Heritage Awards.

Announced in September, the University of Exeter was named The Sunday Times University of the Year and is also now one of the top 200 universities in the world with a top ten rating by the Guardian newspaper.

At the Food and Travel Magazine Reader Awards held on September 3, Ashburton Cookery School won Cookery School of the Year and Gidleigh Park triumphed in two categories - Hotel of the Year and Rural Hotel of the Year.

Exeter's quirky and unique The Real Food Store was one of three finalists out of 900 in the Best Local Retailer Category of the 13th BBC Food and Farming Awards - eventually coming away as runners-up.

Exeter College is now recognised as a the leading further education college in the country after winning Outstanding Provider of the Year and Outstanding Leadership of Learning and Skills Awards at the prestigious Times Educational Supplement FE Awards.