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WTG Class of 2011-12
Mel Adams – When I first started the course I must admit I was of the mind: “I know London really well, I work as a guide professionally … what can they teach me?” I could not have been more wrong and conceited if I’d tried. Caroline Dunmore is a natural communicator with a huge bag of experience and knowledge to back it up. I really enjoyed every tasty morsel of her teaching and was very sad when the course came to an end.
(Mel is a professional tourist guide.)
Gianna Bowen – You know, when I completed my City of London course, I felt I was missing information on its next-door neighbour, Westminster. So I started looking around for a history course and wasn’t expecting much else. After all, I had already learnt to be a London guide by taken an excellent City course, so what more was there to learn? I already had guiding skills … but, boy, was I in for a shock! The Westminster course stretched the parts other courses couldn’t reach! I learnt so much more than just the historical connections of the area. I learnt how to act, I learnt how to dig deeper for my research, I learnt about what made the people tick who played a part in Westminster. In fact I learnt a lot about myself and it was all due to the superb teaching skills of Caroline and John. Truly great teachers, giving their all. Caroline pushed my limits, encouraged, raised my own expectations and taught me so much on this course that I would be delighted to do it again and again! It was one of the most exciting and mentally challenging years of my life (and believe me I have been around the block), and I would not only recommend it to everyone but believe it should be compulsory to everyone for life lessons as well as history lessons!! Caroline, thank you so much for all your input – I definitely couldn’t have done it without you.
Sue Dennis – Caroline, as someone who has worked in the political world at Westminster for twenty-five years, I cannot shout loudly enough how much I gained from, as well as enjoyed, your course on guiding in the City of Westminster, which I completed in the summer. During 32 weeks from October to May, not only did I gain an encylopaedic knowledge of the history of that area of London that grew “up west” from the original Roman City, I also benefited from your expert tuition on guiding and presentational skills – not to mention the stimulating and convivial time with my class colleagues. The City of Westminster – which stretches from Fleet Street in the east to Maida Vale in the west and from Regent’s Park in the north to the Thames in the south – is a cornucopia of London life, both past and present. The way you organised the abundance of information into both themes and geographical areas, through lectures and practical walks, whilst at the same time exciting and encouraging us all by setting us small projects to either inform our colleagues in class or to guide them when out on our walks, made the course a perfect combination of pleasure and learning. I shall now go forward with a spring in my step – feeling confident and enthusiastic about showing both London residents and foreign visitors the many exciting aspects of London that Westminster has to offer! Thank you so much for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.
(Sue is a City of London Guide and a Parliamentary Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Cordula Galster – I was one of the few people on the course without any prior guiding experience. In addition, at the beginning of the course I thought I was at a disadvantage by not being a born-and-bred Londoner (or even a Brit). However, the way the course was structured and taught by Caroline and John and the fantastic atmosphere they created quickly dispelled my worries. Caroline’s didactical skills made every lecture immensely interesting and fun. The lectures and creative activities not only offered a huge wealth of knowledge about all imaginable aspects of Westminster (from architecture to learned societies to royals) but were also thought-provoking and the basis for fruitful discussions. The amount of time and energy that Caroline put into the preparation of each lecture and walk was incredible. On the practical side, what developed and improved my guiding skills most was her honest and detailed feedback after every walk. In short, it was one of the best courses I have ever taken part in and I can only say a big thank you to Caroline!
Sean Gay – If you are interested in the history of ancient and modern Westminster, this is a highly informative, good fun course for improving your knowledge and honing the presentational skills so essential in guiding. I got to know my tutors and fellow students well over the course and was sad when it ended. Highly recommended!
(Sean is a City of London Guide as well as Westminster Guide.)
Mick Greenwood – I found the course stimulating, challenging and rewarding and felt that the classes had a great atmosphere. I got a job out of the course, too!
(Mick is a cab driver and is a qualified London Cab Guide.)
Daniella King – I was a student on the Westminster Guiding course in 2011-12, three years after I qualified as a City of London Guide. I would thoroughly recommend the Westminster course to anyone who wants to discover so many unknown facts about such a well-known area. And we had the added benefit of having two tutors – Caroline Dunmore and John Finn – who showed such commitment and enthusiasm on the course, which helped to make it an enjoyable and fully worthwhile experience.
(Daniella is a City of London Guide and a Clerkenwell & Islington Guide as a well as a Westminster Guide.)
Yukiko Kitajima – The Westminster Guiding course has provided me with various ways to approach Westminster heritage, theoretical methods of guiding and above all, enthusiastic tutors full of knowledge and lovely colleagues full of character.
(Yukiko is a City of London Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Ashley Lakey – As an American living in London, I found the course both educational and welcoming. The course syllabus not only covered iconic Westminster landmarks, but was also structured in a way that encouraged us to explore the off-the-beaten-track Westminster. The course tutors Caroline and John were superb, coaching each of us individually and pooling our strengths as a group to help us develop our research and presentation skills. It was nice to have two tutors whose research and guiding techniques complemented each other so well, as this worked to the benefit of the class. As a team leader at a major museum in London responsible for developing staff presentation skills for public speaking, the course also improved my training confidence.
(Ashley is a museum professional.)
Joslyn McDiarmid – The University of Westminster course can seem intimidating to applicants without a degree but I would say don’t let this discourage an application. I was slightly worried but once in the class room the support using the resources the university can provide was freely available and interaction between the students was fantastic. I wanted to be a guide and thought I knew the job description. The course taught practical skills but more than anything changed the perceived job definition into that of interpreter. This was led by the lecturers teaching the course and invaluable. I realised that all the research and information in print is useless without the ability to translate that research into a dialogue with the group of walkers tramping the streets with me guiding them. Learning how to arrange, store and reference information was great but I also gained an understanding into the diversity of its application. Depending on interests all this knowledge could be adapted to any walking group for their best experience. I learned, what to some may be obvious, that ten people walking in Westminster experience the environment differently and a good guide makes sure they all see or hear something that interests them.
Cristina Menduni – I really enjoyed the course and especially the walkshops where the theory was put into practice and the positive feedback received helped me to improve week after week. My fellow students were very supportive and I felt a little lonely when the course ended.
Russell Nash – I studied on the City of Westminster Tour Guide course in 2011-12. The lectures were stimulating and interesting, the walkshops challenging and the guiding skills training invaluable. Inspired by excellent teaching and through collaborating with fellow students I learned how to plan, research and deliver walking tours in London’s West End.
(Russell is a professional tourist guide and is currently on the Blue Badge course.)
Steve Pratt – Definitely one of my better educational investments. If you’re interested in working as a tour guide in London, but aren’t quite sure how to start, this course is a must. What you get: practical guiding practice from Day 1, course leaders who genuinely care about your progress and are not afraid to point out how you can develop and improve, interesting and detailed lectures about all facets of Westminster and your knowledge tested through a wide variety of assessment methods. Moreover, the course provides a wonderful chance to meet with like minds. The lecturers ensure that, throughout the year, everybody has the opportunity to work with every other member of the class, so it is a wonderful way to make new friends with similar interests. The first evening of the course was a revelation: to be suddenly surrounded by people “talking London” made me feel like I had come home. Felt a palpable sense of loss when the course finished. The networking was invaluable and has helped me launch my own guiding career. Don’t miss this!
Richard Watkins – I did the City of Westminster Tour Guiding course 2011-12. I found the course inspiring and challenging and I very much enjoyed the whole year. It has equipped me with the technique, knowledge and confidence to go out and guide in Westminster and London more widely. In fact in many ways it has helped me to change my life, as I took voluntary redundancy from a 20-year plus career to start earning money guiding. The tutoring was of a very high standard thanks to Caroline’s and John’s sterling work, and the syllabus was nicely varied, mixing written work and regular practice on the ground with more traditional lecture-style teaching and other practical group work in the classroom. It was great as well also to include interior guiding and work on doing presentations.
Elaine Wein – As a City of London Guide, I really enjoyed the Westminster Course. It helped me develop my skills as well as teaching me about Westminster. I thought the course was really well organised and planned and I loved the fact that the social side wasn’t forgotten, too! Definitely recommended.
Rob Woodford – I loved every minute of the 2011-12 Westminster Guiding Course – made all the more enjoyable thanks to our lecturers, Caroline and John! It was a wonderful experience!
(Rob is a cab driver and is a City of London Guide and a London Cab Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
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