“Sending people home with wonderful memories is the most rewarding experience one can have” Anne Bartlett, Blue Badge Guide
The Blue Badge is recognised internationally as the qualification of excellence in site and heritage interpretation, and in communication skills. It is awarded only following extensive training and vigorous examination. Our Blue Badge Guides are not only well trained, they genuinely enjoy their jobs and gain an enormous amount of pleasure from what they do. We spoke to some of our guides to find out what motivates them to work so hard.
“As a Blue Badge Guide I love meeting visitors and holidaymakers and being able to personalise their tour by showing them some of England’s most stunning locations. I strive to provide them with an experience that they will remember by revealing the character and splendour of their chosen destination. Organising a successful trip and sending people home with wonderful memories is the most rewarding experience one can have.
“I love the variety of leading different tours each day introducing guests to my favourite corners of London. Even during weeks when I might be asked to repeat the same tour several times, the job is still rewarding as each group is unique with different interests, tastes and requirements. Being a guide has opened doors to other fields of work too including broadcasting, writing, lecturing and after dinner speaking. I enjoy the freedom of being self employed which puts me in charge of my own destiny, arranging my own workload and looking at different ways to promote my tours in an increasingly competitive market”
“The wide variety of topics that come up on interactive tours with small groups. Whatever the core theme of the tour, it’s great when clients encourage – even challenge – one to go ‘above and beyond’. For instance, this week I was leading an American family on a specialist tour of Modernist architecture in Hampstead, but found them keen for me to riff on other things we encountered, from the varied styles of architecture in the area, to local cultural treasures such as the much-loved French crêperie stall or the unassuming High St. café where you’re pretty likely to find an A List celeb on the next table, to the early Victorian hexagonal post box (turns out that one of the sons was an avid philatelist! Who knew?), and the public telephone kiosk now upcycled into a trendy pop-up coffee stall.
I’m impressed by the unexpected knowledge of some of the visitors I encounter. For instance, a shy teenage American boy, who visibly blossomed as he revealed his deep knowledge and love of all things Winston Churchill during a tour of the War Rooms. For him, that visit was the unforgettable experience from his visit to London.
No two days and no two tours are ever the same. An Indian group at the Tower of London may be more interested in the Koh-i-Noor diamond and Bollywood scenes filmed on Tower Bridge, while an American will be moved by graffiti carved by 16th century religious prisoners and tell you the family legend that they are a descendant of beheaded Queen Anne Boleyn. Well, maybe!
Guides have a boundless enthusiasm for facts and stories. Writing ‘The Blue Badge Guide’s London Quiz Book’ was a nerve-wracking process of selecting and fact-checking no less than 220 entertaining questions and answers (lest my knowledgeable colleagues should spot the tiniest, inadvertent inaccuracy). Well worth it, judging by feedback and sales, and the London book’s success encouraged the publishers to commission others covering Edinburgh and Liverpool, with others to follow.
I love it when a previous client recommends me to their friends visiting London, or comes back again themselves and books another tour with me.”