BLUE BADGE AND HEART OF ENGLAND GUIDE
Why did you become a blue badge guide and what did it entail?
Looking for a new career away from the computer industry in my home town of Coventry, I put my name forward for a Coventry Green Badge course. I passed in 1995 after 10 weeks of training, and started my guide work there, where I have also been a city councillor. I had to wait to 2000 to go on a one-year Heart of England Blue Badge course covering a much wider area. At the end I took eight examinations. Four of them were practical and included a walk, a coach tour, a church and an art gallery.
What territories do you cover and why have you picked those?
Being based in Coventry, that’s my favourite place to work in. I love to help get the city more appreciated and understood. The Heart of England Blue Badge covers the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire , Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. This has given me the opportunity to cover such themes as Inspector Morse and Midsomer Murders. I have also recently started conducting tours in both Northamptonshire and Rutland, which were originally part of my training.
What can you do for GTOs who want to add something special to their visit?
As a professional registered tourist guide, someone like me can bring a place to life, and make the most of the often limited time groups have. Not only the physical buildings, but also the stories behind them and behind the location being visited. As one colleague once said to me, without a guide, it’s like watching a television with the sound turned down! We can also offer advice and help with lunch and coffee breaks and coach parking, and use our contacts to sometimes get access to places and buildings that are not otherwise open.
What are your thoughts about the way in which guides are used and how this can be better understood and promoted?
It amazes me how many people still don’t know we exist! Both of our national organisations, the Institute of Tourist Guiding and the Guild of Registered Tourist Guides, have been doing an excellent job over the last couple of years. But we need to continue to make sure people know about professional, registered and qualified guides and about the training we have to do to be who we are, and what we can therefore offer.
Roger Bailey is a full-time Blue Badge Tourist Guide and has been in the industry for 17 years, working on open-top bus tours, in Tourist Information Centres and many other positions associated with tourism including the guiding profession. He has conducted over 3,000 guided tours.