Q&A With Anglia Guides
We are always looking for experienced and knowledgeable historians to join our unique team of expert guides. Whilst it is without doubt a rewarding experience, becoming a guide for Anglia involves a detailed training process, to ensure each individual is prepared for everything that guiding a group of students can involve. We spoke to some of our newer recruits, Nathalie Harty, Gary Cushing, John Carey, Alex Hetherington, Rob Yuill and Mark Banning to find out more about their first two years as an Anglia guide.
What motivated you to want to become an Anglia guide?
Nathalie Harty – My first battlefield tour with Anglia was as a newly qualified teacher in 2003. Having used them ever since for various school trips I was well aware of the expertise offered by the guides on the ground and efficiency of the company overall. My motivation to become involved as a guide has largely been a result of watching my own students engage and become enthused by the tours which enhance their learning. It’s really obvious to me that these tours are a valuable experience for all involved plus now I get to submerse myself in the kind of history I don’t get that much time to teach in the classroom.
Gary Cushing – My motivation was simply to use my knowledge and pass it on to another generation, in essence, to hopefully inspire them to look at history and remember the people that gave up so much.
Alex Hetherington – I switched from being a classroom teacher to being a London tour guide about four years ago. Perhaps surprisingly I missed school students, their energy and their irreverent humour. Like many secondary school History teachers, I had particularly relished the challenging topics that elicit debate and outrage. The Western Front is one of those, and even a one-day visit gives scope to open eyes and minds and to generate diverse, informed opinions.
Mark Banning – As someone who had been guiding small adult groups for a number of years, I liked the idea of a change to the way I presented the stories and history of the war on the Western Front.
John Carey – My motivation to join Anglia as a guide came from seeing the Anglia team on the ground during my numerous visits to the battlefields and the way they engaged with the young people in their care.
Rob Yuill – I have always had a passion for communicating history to people and have been doing so for many years as a living historian & re-enactor. This has involved much work within schools and with school groups. A friend of mine who was already an Anglia guide suggested that I give formal guiding with a recognised company a try out as he thought I had some talent for it, so I decided to try out with Anglia.
How did you feel both before and after your first tour as an Anglia guide?
(NH) A mix of excitement and a few nerves beforehand! I knew I could teach in a classroom but was I going to be able to pull it off on location in a trench system, cemetery or battlefield? Afterwards, I wondered why I’d been so nervous. I felt a big sense of achievement and made a mental note to just enjoy it more next time.
(GC) My first tour was with a Port Talbot school over three days. It was a great start to touring with Anglia as it gave us all time to build rapport and give the students a more worthwhile experience. We ended the tour with the school giving us (the Guides) a card saying thanks and a book on the poet Hedd Wynn. I opened this when I got home and it brought a smile to me and a feeling of pride having done a job well.
(AH) Anxious of course. But I shadowed several tours, each time taking a greater role. Each time spotting different brilliant parts of the different guides’ techniques and presentations. I knew that these were opportunities to be grabbed and mercilessly mined.
(RY) Very nervous that I wouldn’t know enough. I hadn’t worked in the Great War subject area for a while and was worried my bank of knowledge would not be enough. After: relieved that I did know enough and reinvigorated with the Great War as a subject. This inspired me to go on and find out more detail and new anecdotes etc to develop my knowledge in this subject area again, in order to deliver a greater experience for groups I was to guide.
What has been the highlight of your first 12 months with the Anglia guide team?
(NH) Meeting and working with other Anglia guides has been a highlight for me. They are all so passionate about what they do. Also being involved in pilgrimages for students who perhaps only have a name of a distant relative. It is really very rewarding when you can locate a grave or a name on a memorial and give them a bit of background on a great great uncle or grandfather. It is a genuinely moving experience for everybody who is there to see it.
(JC) The highlight of my first 12 months with the Anglia guide team was taking part in a tour for a school located close to my home in Staffordshire. The pupils and staff had identified numerous relatives who fought and died during the Great War, due to their efforts we identified locations and supporting material which made several pilgrimages to sites of significance to the group and individuals possible. The icing on the cake was a personal thank you card from the pupils and being stopped whilst shopping and thanked by a parent several months after the tour.
(AH) Finding my own way to present the excellent materials that connected individual soldiers’ stories with individual students.
(MB) Personally, it has been the interaction with the students, and the discussions that we have had, the awareness and understanding that you can see being generated by some (and hopefully all) is very satisfying. It’s also great to see the students lose their inevitable initial reserve and to begin to interact with guides, although inevitably, this happens more towards the end of a trip.
In terms of guiding, what would you like to achieve in the coming 12 months?
(GC) Better knowledge, more tours and advancing towards Berlin, WW2 and more WW1 tours including walking Tours.
(AH) I’ve started working with the team that deliver a Policing and Crime tour in Whitechapel. It’s an area of London I know well but I’m seeing it in a different way. I’m looking forward to the day that all the pieces of that jigsaw slot into place for my students.