New tourist guides

Press Release: 07/09/2005

Several teachers, an actor and a bell ringer are among the ten people who will be awarded the prestigious red and gold badge of the city by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Neil Baxter.

At a special graduation ceremony in Abbey House on Tuesday 13 September the Mayor will present the new guides with a badge bearing Winchester's coats of arms. They will also receive the official green badge of the Institute of Tourist Guiding from joint president Joanne Bramley.

The ten 'graduates' have recently joined the ranks of Winchester's tourist guides after a gruelling ten-month course about the history, culture and future plans of the city. This included a demanding programme of lectures, site visits, communications training and written and practical examinations.

The course was organised by Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association (WATGA) with the support of Winchester City Council and was formally accredited by the national Institute of Tourist Guiding.

Chairman of WATGA Elizabeth Proudman said: "We are delighted to welcome these new members who will be a great asset to the association. They bring with them many new specialisms and interests such as military history, saints, and even cakes and alehouses."

To find out more about the guiding service promoted through Winchester Tourist Information Centre, the Mayor will swap his robes for a pair of sensible walking shoes earlier in the day to travel back in time with one of the tourist guides.

The office of Mayor of Winchester can be traced back to the 12th century when Winchester was one of the four main cities of the Anglo Norman kingdom. It is second only in precedence to London. Given this impressive mayoral heritage, it is no surprise that His Worship wishes to find out more about Winchester's distinguished past.

Cllr Baxter said: "Winchester's dedicated tourist guides are ambassadors for Winchester, and provide the human face of the city for many of our visitors. I am really looking forward to learning some of the less well known stories behind the stones of this ancient city. I am quite sure that the people I meet during my mayoral year - especially those from abroad - will expect me to know Winchester's past inside out."

Winchester's guides have been leading groups of visitors and residents around the District of Winchester for over 25 years. Their love of history, sense of humour and passion for the city are contagious and encourage visitors to return time and time again. Regular tours take place daily throughout the summer months, departing from inside Winchester Tourist Information Centre (TIC). Tickets can be brought on the day and cost a modest £3 and accompanying children are free.

Full details of all these walks, as well as forthcoming themed walks such as Jane Austen in Winchester and Halloween walks, can be obtained from Winchester TIC on Broadway Tel 01962 840 500 or by e-mailing tourism@winchester.gov.uk or by logging onto www.visitwinchester.co.uk/GuidedToursLink.shtml