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WTG Class of 2016-17

 

Anna Maria Bastianelli – I have been interested in becoming a City of Westminster Guide for a while and, after extensive research, I can confidently say I made an excellent choice. This course is everything I expected and more! It certainly wasn’t easy but Caroline took each and every single one of us under her wing and guided us through this wonderful journey with knowledge, experience and attention. Leading by example, she gave us all the tools needed to embrace every aspect of this role. Not only Caroline showed passion and commitment but was constantly making sure we were all keeping up with our work; we did a lot of researching! At times, I felt under pressure when delivering my speeches as English is not my first language but Caroline was always very encouraging, supportive and able to give us a confidence boost when needed. She also provided extra support for us during weekends, when tutors Catherine and Fiona gave us the opportunity to practise the tours we learnt throughout the week. Their help and assistance in the cold and busy streets of central London was truly invaluable. Overall, I cannot recommend this course enough to anyone serious about becoming not just a guide but “THE GUIDE” of the City of Westminster. You will find yourself becoming part of a team encouraged to perform at its best, by a great and truly professional teacher, such as Caroline herself.

Elizabeth Chase – Anyone undertaking this course will feel not only achieved, but renewed. It is a life-enhancing experience, both academically and personally. The history, architecture and art of guiding are delivered in an ambitious, broad context incorporating theory of education, storytelling, psychology, performance, and confidence-building. On-street guiding in the iconic Westminster landscape from the outset. The scope is vast and the work arduous, but delivered in an illuminating, empowering and nurturing way. The course is extremely well designed and one of the real pleasures is unfolding the masterly planning as it proceeds. Nothing is wasted. Guest presentations dovetail with the assignments. Interior and exterior assignments, both written and practical, balance each other. For each assignment the preparation time shortens, to develop confidence and speed. The assignment templates are invaluable in formatting your own work when you “go professional” after the course. Classroom celebrations, visits and games (relevant to the skills) are built in, too. The resources and notes are world-class. Caroline teaches this brilliantly and has marshalled a course team of tutors, guest lecturers and past students who create a tremendous network of skill, support and feedback. I’m grateful. If I could do it again, I would.

Joanna Fitzpatrick – Studying on the Westminster Tour Guiding course I have developed not only academically but also personally, and I would recommend the course to anyone. Caroline ensured every lesson was interesting and we learned something new in a friendly and relaxed environment. The walks Caroline created for the course showed me parts of Westminster I didn’t even know existed. This course also brought back a love of learning, which I thought I had lost. Thank you, Caroline, for everything!

Joyce Gendall – I am very pleased to offer feedback for Caroline Dunmore, course director of the Westminster Tour Guiding course. Caroline is an excellent tutor and mentor and she has designed a terrific course suitable for both the novice and the experienced guide alike. The course is very well structured and supported by comprehensive learning resources, which are easily accessible online. Assignments are challenging as should be expected and they are well thought through and always engaging. Caroline has been ably assisted by Catherine Cartwright and Fiona Lukas, who have also provided great support both in the classroom and during walk assignments. Caroline, together with Catherine and Fiona, are always happy to provide feedback and encouragement to students. It has also been good to have input from many former students, who are members of the CWGLA and have been very supportive throughout the course. The icing on the cake has been a terrific bunch of classmates on the 2016-17 course. I have undertaken a number of academic and professional qualifications in the past, and the Westminster Tour Guiding course has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable. Well done, Caroline, for putting together such a terrific and professional learning event!

Karen Golanski – A thoroughly enjoyable course, which I feel has really enhanced my guiding skills and confidence, having previously done the City of London course. Caroline continually develops the course, this year changing the written exam for a thought-provoking written assignment where students analyse what is memorable and effective in a tour of four interior sites of the students’ choice. There were some fascinating talks from previous students and lots of small group work. Saturday walkshops led by Catherine and Fiona meant we could practise our skills among friends and learn lots of detailed information about different areas in Westminster. Prepare to work hard but be rewarded by studying with great tutors and meeting a lovely bunch of people. The social element of the course (including a good chin wag in the pub after class on a Thursday evening) is something that you may not consider when applying but is a wonderful bonus.

Naomi Hemans – I learned so much and gained a great a sense of achievement from completing the Westminster Tour Guiding course. It’s a high-quality course, covering the area’s history and the craft of guiding. There is excellent teaching and support from the course director Caroline Dunmore and the rest of the team. The course also provides plenty of opportunities to practise skills and visit interesting sites in the City of Westminster.

Natalie Krushner – This course is one of the best educational / personal development investments you can ever make. I listened with trepidation when Caroline told us at the beginning of the course that we were all going on a journey together. The course hones a very particular set of skills that combine to make a tour guide: you are not just a cultural enthusiast or a public speaker or a researcher or an entertainer but a mix of the lot. You only have eight months, so you have to hit the ground running; walks start one month into the course and assignments soon after. Caroline, Catherine and Fiona are totally dedicated and accessible and this course has brought me a network of friends and resources in the guiding world.

Grant Lander – I remember heading up to my interview for the course on the first Saturday in September 2016. I was dressed to impress: new shoes (which ended up crippling me) and a new pair of trousers and jacket. Dressing up on that day had a dual purpose. I obviously wanted to appear smart for my interview and then afterwards I was heading to Ascot for a day at the races. I ended up having two winners that day: a 9-1 in the first race and news from Caroline on the following Monday that I had been accepted for a place on the course. I spent the last six years of my police service as a detective in the City of Westminster and I always said that, from a police point of view, if anything happens it happens in Westminster. After embarking on this amazing course, I realise that so much of the history of our country was born in the City of Westminster. Caroline our course director said at the start that the course would take our lives over, and Caroline was not far wrong. With Thursday evening classes and Saturday morning walks, 2016-17 was full on. You could tell on the course those of us who had full-time jobs or had young families. The scramble to reach class on a Thursday evening after a hard day at work was an eye opener. This was, however, tempered by the class going for a pint at the end of a lecture. The Westminster Tour Guiding course has been a fascinating journey of learning. I have learned so much during this course, not just about the City of Westminster but also about how to be a good tour guide. The course as devised by Caroline is comprehensive. The handouts are detailed and in-depth, and they have been incredibly useful not just during the course but even now. Caroline is not only a brilliant lecturer but is also passionate about her students, and I always felt fully supported by Caroline during the course. I should also mention the fantastic support provided to us by previous students of the Westminster Tour Guiding course, who gave up their own time to take us on exam preps and offered invaluable advice. And a special mention must go to Fiona and Catherine for their invaluable advice and guidance on our Saturday morning walkshops. I have met friends for life in my class. We all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for undertaking the course. For me personally, the journey hopefully leads to me becoming a full-time guide.

Richard McHardy – From the moment I started researching this course, I thought that all the ingredients for me to gain some new skills and have some real enjoyment were likely to be found. This proved to be the case. I remember meeting people at the interview stage, and more so when we all met up at the first evening session, people from a wide age spectrum, with so much character, life experience and skills (including the tutors!), all coming together to share an eight-month journey. If you have a love of history and storytelling, love London, enjoy a stroll, and like meeting new people, then this could be for you. It is hard work, but is incredibly rewarding and you will discover things about yourself en route that will only do you good. Be prepared to socialise and support your colleagues, and let Caroline and her team steer you through the months ahead. This is a course unlike others you may have done, with excellent tutors creating an environment in which you will flourish. Irrespective of gaining a potential qualification, it is the joy of learning and interpreting, being able to lead a group of people and creating new opportunities for yourself that is so rewarding. Hope you give it a go. I might even meet you some time soon!

Angela Mullen – My only regret about this course is that I didn’t do it sooner. It was undoubtedly the best academic experience I have ever had. Dr Caroline Dunmore has clearly put a lot of time and effort over the years into perfecting this course so that students can benefit from a truly professional and life-changing experience. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in guiding as a hobby or career.

David Norton – An outstanding educational experience. The course is crafted with care and beautifully organised and delivered to an extremely high standard. It challenges you on many levels but I left every session eagerly waiting for the next one. Caroline is a consummate professional who fosters a spirit of friendship and camaraderie amongst her students. I finished the course not only more knowledgeable about history and architecture etc but also with an increased confidence to face life’s challenges.

Flora Pereira – I have just completed the Westminster Tour Guiding course and can only give it the highest praise and recommendation. As a full-time teacher, taking this course took over every bit of free time I had available but it was worth every second. Rather than being stressful and hard work (of course it was a lot of work), it was more like a highly enjoyable hobby and I found myself completely immersed in the history of Westminster and its locations. Not only did we learn about Westminster in every detail but we also had excellent tutoring on guiding techniques. The first few times of delivering a five-minute stop were a bit nerve-wracking but the comments on our efforts were always encouraging and useful so it was not too long before our confidence – I am speaking for the group now – grew and we began to develop our own styles of delivery. I am now leading tours whenever I can and enjoying this opportunity that the course has given me. I will be retiring soon and my plan to guide is looking very plausible.

Lynne Simmons – It starts with your interview and your first timed commentary. You are accepted. Easy, you think. Well, think again – you are in for an eight-month rollercoaster of discovery, learning and personal growth. Discover: the things you didn’t know were involved in guiding; the places in Westminster you didn’t know existed; the places you thought you knew but didn’t really; how well you get on with colleagues when you have to work together. Learn: how to give a presentation; how to care for a group of visitors; how rich and relevant history is, even though you failed your O-level and thought it was pointless at the tender age of 16; how MUCH history there is; how to organise your life. Learn from the library of material on tap; from your friends; from the tutors; from mistakes. Grow: in faith in yourself; in faith in your colleagues; in trust in the tutors – they are a fine example of patience, humour, balance and nurture. They are enablers and confidantes. On this course, you acquire so much; you benefit in so many ways. Just do it!

Oliver Simmons – I am delighted to have taken the Westminster Tour Guiding course. It was a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. I have had a fear of public speaking all my life and this course has cured it! I’m now guiding on the streets of London with a new-found confidence. Caroline’s instruction is excellent with huge resources at hand at every point on the programme. The practical skills are invaluable, too. “The Art of the Urban Walking Tour” by Dr Caroline Dunmore should be required reading for all tour guides!

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