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WTG Class of 2015-16
Lou Cohen – Last autumn I noticed an advert on the Underground promoting a course at the University of Westminster, saying start your journey here to explore your potential. A year or so later, I can vouch for “going on a journey” – in fact Caroline Dunmore, our course director, could have designed the advert. The journey started with a timed presentation, easier for those whose work involves presentations, but daunting for those like me who are novices. Caroline and her panel put us at moderate ease (it was an interview after all), and having got on the course I don’t feel I have looked back. I have thoroughly enjoyed the lectures, talks by guest speakers, the walkshops, the fellow students and hearing about the pros and cons of setting up your own business. Caroline’s organisational skills mean you have everything you need in good time, you just have to be organised, too. The support from Caroline and course tutor Catherine Cartwright was tremendous, with constructive feedback and encouragement to explore your own style of guiding and experiment. So now I’m taking advantage of the unexpected doors that are opening to me and enjoying the journey and I’d encourage you to apply and see where it takes you, too.
Ian Grover – What a fantastic course! Caroline’s enthusiasm, knowledge and determination to help us all succeed was outstanding. The course has provided me with the skills required to construct effective and interesting walking tours and present them with a confidence that I did not possess beforehand. The structure of the course was excellent with a great balance of classroom learning and practical experience. The talks from previous course attendees were also invaluable and provided us with a good idea as to the level of competence that, with hard work and dedication, we all had the potential to achieve. The class size was just right and included people from various walks of life and also with varying degrees of previous guiding experience. Caroline skilfully led us through the course and made sure that appropriate help and advice was provided on an individual basis to realise each student’s own potential. I cannot recommend this course highly enough and huge thanks are due to Caroline and also to Catherine for sharing their wide experience with us and for making our learning such fun.
Louise Halfpenny – Caroline is captivating, impeccably organised, bursting with knowledge and will leave you more in love with London than you thought possible. Whether on her Westminster Tour Guiding course or on one of her walks, she will fill your mind with new facts whilst adding to your sense of wonder about the secrets and treasures the capital holds. You will feel enthused and not overloaded as she skilfully weaves information about art, architecture, science and discovery together with human stories. Apply to be taught by her or book her for a tour or lecture – you will not be disappointed!
Julia Huber – I thoroughly enjoyed the WTG course with Caroline and the various other experts she brought along when discussing particular subjects – from historical characters to architectural gems in Westminster. But the course didn’t just focus on the ‘hard facts’! Attention was also given to the ‘art of guiding’ – how best to conduct a tour as an informative, interesting and inclusive tour guide while at the same time moving the group safely from one stop to the next. I particularly liked the session where students were able to talk to established guides, gaining tips on how to set up as a guide after the course. The WTG course is an opportunity not to be missed and I would recommend it to anybody who is thinking about guiding as a hobby or a profession.
Philip Jones – As a recent retiree I was immediately attracted to the WTG course: I wanted to develop my interest in London local history, and the people and places that have made it what it is, as well as have an opportunity to learn a new skill alongside. I also liked the idea of having some structured learning both in the classroom and on the street and to interact with like-minded students. I loved the course – it exceeded my expectations! The qualities Caroline brought to the course were knowledge – which she wears lightly – enthusiasm, energy and support. Great organisational skills – both in providing an entertaining and instructive classroom environment – and in the provision of her ‘walkshops’ on the street and in the internal environment like the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of London. Providing a five-minute talk in front of a statue, painting or building is definitely not just about learning and reciting facts and dates … as people new to guiding like me soon found out! We learnt how to provide something that was stimulating and interesting to the ‘punter’ not just in what we said but how we said it. During the research on any topic between classes, and the exchange of ideas with fellow students, you gradually learnt to identify not just what particular line or lines you wanted to develop in the talk but how to structure it and present it to make that all-important connection with the audience. I said to Caroline after the course that if she decided to develop a ‘Part 2’ or ‘Masters’ to the course the problem she would encounter would be that most of the students on all her years would want to join it! I have no hesitation in recommending the course. Excellent.
Mick McTernan – Loved every aspect of the Westminster Tour Guiding course. The classroom lectures by Caroline Dunmore and Catherine Cartwright were informative, entertaining and breathtaking. So many subjects covered so thoroughly with so much enthusiasm and energy. I was very grateful that thorough class notes were supplied as well as additional research material online, making it possible to go over the lecture material in my own time. The walkshop assignments were both challenging and rewarding, giving us the opportunity to put into practice the lessons learned in the classroom, and to receive constructive feedback on the day. It was great having guest speakers who were experts in their field, sharing their knowledge and experience. A highlight of the course for me was the interior guiding assignments in the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of London. For anyone considering a career in tour guiding, this course is superb. My only wish is that I could do it all again!
Lina Nicolli – A really enjoyable and motivating course that gets you out and guiding right from the start, which is so important for less experienced guides like me. Westminster can seem overwhelming (no shortage of famous and infamous people and places), but the structured and supportive atmosphere that Caroline created made learning what to say and how to say it a really fun and stimulating experience. For me, what made the course special was the emphasis on giving you a great space to explore your own style and work out what kind of guide you want to be. I think that’s what makes the course really stand out – the focus on finding your own way of bringing the city to life.
Aitor Quintana – The Westminster Tour Guiding course has given me something that most other similar training courses wouldn’t: the confidence that I can do tour guiding, and do it on my own terms. Apart from the specific knowledge that is the basis of this training (and I also had the freedom to follow my own personal inclinations even in this area), from day one I was given very clear and specific training on the actual art of guiding on the streets. There is no better way of learning than on the job, they say, and this course was the closest way to actual guiding, but in the safe context of structured training and with the support of my colleagues and an excellent teacher. Caroline’s approach to coaching aspiring guides was hands-on, allowed me to put my own stamp on it and was thoroughly enjoyable.
Viv Schrager-Powell – I enrolled on the WTG course because I wanted to expand my London guiding knowledge, having already qualified as a City of London Guide. I was delighted and gratified to discover that the course was just what I wanted, and I have found the knowledge and skills I gained along the way invaluable. Participating in the various learning activities with fellow students, from the weekend walkshops to class presentations, was always enjoyable, but what really surprised and delighted me was to see some students, who were pretty much novices to begin with, bloom into vibrant, enthusiastic and confident presenters, having awakened some previously untapped passion whilst participating on the WTG course. Also, hats off to Caroline, whose organisation skills meant that we always knew well in advance what was expected of us, on what date, at what time and where to be! Plus, lots of useful, detailed feedback after each presentation exercise. This is a great course! You’ll be amazed at what you get from it.
Robert Woolf – The WTG course director, Caroline Dunmore, brings real enthusiasm for the skills of guiding into the classes and into practical work with a well-structured course programme. During practice walks around the City of Westminster students receive detailed feedback from tutors and suggestions for improvements. Students are encouraged to try new ideas for engaging with an audience and so bring to life the stopping places on a walk. And as you would hope, it is a very sociable and enjoyable year!