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Listen to Excess Baggage for

28 April 2007

With time and energy to spare, more and more people are becoming tourist guides either in retirement or as a part time job. John McCarthy meets four people who embarked on just such a second career.

Alan Cross is president of the Institute of Tourist Guides and is a guide himself in London; Bill Hill delights in showing people round Edinburgh; in Stratford on Avon, Gwen Zanzotera explains the significance and history of Shakespeare country, John Howes has shepherded coach loads of tourists round most of the countries in Europe and pulled together many of his recollections in a book called Trials of a Tour Leader.

Presented by John McCarthy


Photo:  Edinburgh

This week's guests: 

John Howes worked for nearly 40 years on the railways: in the latter years for a newspaper called ‘Getaway’ he started organising package rail tours to the continent for railway families.  He took excursions to Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg and organised ski trips. 

In due course John became a freelance tour guide or leader.  John never did any formal training and developed his skills over the years by improving and extending his experience with up to twelve trips a summer.

Trials of a Tour Leader
By John Howes
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
ISBN-10: 1425101852
ISBN-13: 978-1425101855

Gwen Zanzotera has been a Blue Badge Guide for The Heart of England region for 14 years and trains guides for the open bus tours of Stratford.  Gwen became a guide when she retired; a friend suggested it and she saw an advert describing the work as “a fascinating paid hobby - where I meet lots of people.”

Gwen’s ‘guiding’ area stretches from Stoke on Trent to Cheltenham where she does walking tours of places like Birmingham as well as of tours of Stratford and the Cotswolds. She has also written a couple of books on the origins of phrases. 

Bill Hill comes from the Scottish Borders and has been tour guiding since he retired after many years in local government.  In tandem he also had a career as a singer and writer of humorous songs. 

For the past year he’s been specialising in customised tours especially for overseas visitors.  Bill does walking tours all over Edinburgh including visits to Greyfriars Bobby, the Old Town and course the Castle.  He also recommends Mary King’s Close, a little known warren of streets under the Royal Mile.

Alan Cross is Blue Badge guide in London and a founder and President of the Institute of Tourist Guiding, the professional body for guides which administers and regulates the training and award of Blue Badges.

Scottish by origin Alan worked overseas in banking.  When he retired and returned to the UK, Alan settled in London and was amazed at many sites of interest in the city.  A friend tipped him off about being a guide and he started doing it.  Alan specialises in the Cabinet War Rooms. 

Blue Badge Guides
Association of Professional Tourist Guides

Institute of Tourist Guiding

UK Tourist Guides
The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides

Bill Hill Edinburgh Tour Guide

Canoe theThames 2007

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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