About Keith

Hi I am Keith. Sam was my son and together with close friends and family we set up 'Go Make It Happen!' in Sam's memory and with his spirit running through it. The aim is to help young people to get involved in the tourism profession. I work partly in tourism (as a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide) and partly in English Language Teaching (writing materials, running training courses overseas, and inspecting language schools in the UK for the British Council).

Five new beneficiaries – May 2016!

It’s been a busy couple of months at ‘Go Make It Happen’. We’ve appointed five new beneficiaries who are embarking on a variety of tourism-profession experiences, awarded a prize to this year’s youngest London Blue Badge Tourist Guide, and started to train our GMIH team of six young (and one very old!) runners for the London Vitality 10K in July 2016. See the pictures below…

Jade Waplington is training to be a holiday rep for TUI travel and hopes to be working overseas regularly in the coming years. Emily Edell, Katie Wignall and Catherine Raggett are this year’s London Blue Badge Tourist Guide trainees, and represent our fifth year of supporting young people on this rigorous training course. Vikki Sanderson is going to Honduras to work on a community project focussing on promoting eco-tourism and how this can generate a livelihood and income for young Hondurans.

Dominic Burris-North receiving his award for the youngest successful Blue Badge Trainee on the 2014-2016 course. In the last picture you can see some of the GMIH team after our first (and so far, only!) training session for the London Vitality run on 10th July 2016 – can you spot the Greek God?

Start of a journey… a message from Keith

‘Go Make It Happen’ has now been operating for nearly four years. In that time we have supported more than twenty young people (‘beneficiaries’ as the charity world calls them) to start on a journey towards a career in tourism. We are deliberately just a small charity making a small contribution to the lives of a handful of young people who want to work in one of the most exciting professions there is – but also one of the most under-valued.

Our beneficiaries have had a range of exciting experiences, including practical training to be London Blue Badge Tourist Guides, Field Guides on game reserves in Africa, Outdoor Adventure Trainee schemes, working on super yachts, doing courses in airline ticketing, MAs in sustainable tourism, and much more. The range of opportunities in the tourism industry is impressive.

I wanted to share the words of one of our recent beneficiaries, Shane Robinson, who we helped to complete a one-week work placement:

“I am a student in Northern Ireland and I chose to travel to Somerset for my work experience which was held in Butlins Minehead. My job was to work in the fairground and leisure department. I arrived on Sunday the 19th of October until the 23rd of October. During my time at Butlins I worked on various rides and fairground machines. I have now had the opportunity to come back and have a job in the season. I absolutely loved the experience and it has opened my eyes for the future and if it wasn’t for ‘Go Make It Happen’ to be honest it would never have happened. The part I liked the most was I was given the independency to travel by myself from Northern Ireland and further on to Somerset.  I used different methods of transport such as trains, buses and flights. I booked everything myself and I’ll say it again, if it wasn’t for ‘Go Make It Happen’ it really wouldn’t have happened.”

In the words of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Here’s to the next four years!


Start of a journey

Gathering of new and old ‘Blue Badge’ beneficiaries



On 14th June 2015 Rob Quail hosted a get together of Blue Badge beneficiaries on the rooftop of his East London apartment. It was a chance to meet our two latest beneficiaries, Alice and Brendan, who start their BBTG training course in September, and to build contacts with beneficiaries from previous years.

We also were able to present Xiao with her prize for the youngest successful Blue Badge trainee. Xiao qualified in April 2015 but was unable to attend the official award ceremony at Westminster Abbey (Bethnal Green was a good substitute!).

The group photo above shows the following people:Back row: Alice, Danny, Brendan, Helen (Brendan’s partner), Xiao, Xiao’s mum; Front row: Tom (Alice’s partner), Keith, Rob + Chloe, Helen (Rob’s wife), Jane (a BBTG).

Thanks to Rob, Helen and Chloe for hosting the event.


Three years’ worth of Blue Badge GMIH beneficiaries






Xiao Yu gets her prize!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meet Shannon, our first beneficiary for 2015 (our fourth year!)

shannonMy name is Shannon Salisbury, I’m a 23 year old student from North Cornwall. I’m currently in my last year at Cardiff University studying for a degree in Marine Geography. I feel very fortunate to be doing such an interesting degree, with lots of practical ‘hands-on’ work and field trips. Part of the course involves carrying out work on board the university’s survey vessel at sea, which I am especially interested in. My interests include sailing, running, reading and travelling. I started sailing last year when I got a place on board a five day voyage from South Wales to the Isle of Wight, and have recently become a volunteer for Challenge Wales- a welsh sail training charity based in Cardiff.

Before going to university I took a ‘gap year’ and travelled to Morocco where I volunteered with children, then travelled to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with some friends. These trips inspired a love of travelling and I have tried to visit as many countries as possible since then, including spending a summer working at an adventure activity camp for kids in the USA in 2012.

I would love to start a career based on my passion for the outdoors, sailing and travelling. This is why I will be completing a six week ‘Superyacht Crew Training’ course this October, run by the UK Sailing Academy. Go Make It Happen is supporting me with the cost of this course, and I am very grateful for this opportunity to be able to pursue my dream.  The course will provide me with sailing and boating qualifications, including RYA Day Skipper and Powerboat Level 2. It also includes a set of safety qualifications, STCW 95, that are legal requirements to working on large vessels. The UK Sailing Academy then provides help with gaining employment in the superyacht industry after the course is completed. I am very excited to start this course, and feel that it will help me enter into the industry.


I would like to get be as involved as I can with Go Make It Happen, I believe it supports a fantastic cause which I would love to be a part of. During my course in October I plan to keep a blog with lots of photos of what I will be doing, which I will carry on after the course wherever I go with my job. I will use blogging and social media to raise the profile of the charity, as well as promoting the travel and tourism industry as whole to other young people.  I have picked a straw sun hat as I am hoping that my career at sea will take me to many exotic locations!!

Meet Lauren… our last beneficiary for 2014

Lauren in EthiopiaWho am I?

I am currently a third year student on an interdisciplinary arts degree in London, writing my dissertation on film and disability studies. I am also a Freelance Curatorial Assistant in my spare time, but since going to Ethiopia in summer 2014, I feel strongly that I would like to shift my career goals to work in Global Development and ‘Voluntourism’, encouraging young people to spend time volunteering overseas, not only to have a fantastic impact on their overseas communities, but also to broaden their personal horizons.


What will I be doing?

I will be staying and volunteering in Gonder, northern Ethiopia for the Anglo-Ethiopian charity, Link Ethiopia, for one year.

During my time in Gonder, I hope to involve myself in the local community by teaching full-time in local schools. I will be facilitating an open and optional, free summer school program at Fasiledes Preparatory School during the summer term, teaching advanced English Language skills. Whilst Fasiledes School already have a summer school program for it’s over 2000 students, these classes are not free for its students, so only those whose family can afford it are able to attend. For this reason I felt that my class was hugely valuable to the local young community, as it was open and free for all students enrolled at Fasiledes Preparatory School, thus giving those who could not afford to official summer school program something to do over summer by attending my advanced English classes.

After summer is over and normal term time resumes, I will integrate myself into normal term time, as a part time English Language teacher as part of the usual Grade 10-12 curriculum. During this stage, teaching advanced grammar skills are very important, as many students are preparing to take the National Exam, which will determine their entrance into university.

Not only should this be a fulfilling experience for the students, but it will also be an incredible experience for myself to involve myself in the local community and to directly impact my students’ lives through teaching.

I will also be undertaking a research project for Link Ethiopia, during the rest of my time in Gonder into one of their projects, possibly into the state of Girl’s Education or Disability Education in the Amhara Region.


My hat

If I were a hat, I’d be a Rastafarian hat, because the Rastafari movement believe that Ethiopia is the Promised Land!


Lauren Elliott

Mad Hatters 2 Pub Quiz

Nearly a hundred people turned up for the ‘Mad Hatters 2’ Pub Quiz at the Prince of Wales in Covent Garden on 2nd October. The quiz was run by ‘Guide London’ (the Association of Professional Tourist Guides) and half of the participants were tourist guides keen to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge. The rest came from various walks of life and included friends of Sam, as well as friends and colleagues of Keith.

Approximately £900 was raised for ‘Go Make It Happen. Some of our beneficiaries were present on the night, two of whom hot-footed it from a Blue Badge Tourist Guide training course lecture on Canterbury. I’m sure they were impressed with how all that acquired knowledge is put to such a useful purpose.

Prizes went to:

  • Winning team: ‘The Perfect Ten’ consisting of Jon Brahms, Tony Hall, Britt Lonsdale, Nigel Rundstrom and Jitka Navratilova.
  • Brain of the APTG: Mike Armitage
  • Best Hat: Delianne Forget

Thanks to Tour Guides Ltd, Antonia Cometa and an anonymous donor for the prizes. And thanks to everyone for making it a great night.




Jeanie and Steve relaxing mid-quiz

An audience with King Charles I – and Danny Parlour

Danny Parlour, GMIH beneficiary and soon to start his Blue Badge Tourist Guide training course, treated us to a guided tour of the Banqueting House in Whitehall on Friday 29th August. Not only did we learn all about this fascinating building and the fabulous Rubens ceiling paintings, we also got to meet King Charles I and his wife Queen Henrietta Maria. The King was remarkably chipper considering this was the place of his execution.

Thanks Danny, it was a great tour. The Banqueting House is certainly worth a visit, as is the bar in the undercroft! See: www.hrp.org.uk/BanquetingHouse/


At the Oscars

Not THE Oscars of course, but the Oscars of the Tourist Guiding world. The award ceremony for newly qualified London Blue Badge Tourist Guides was held at the Foundling Museum in London on the 9th April 2014. It was a very proud moment for all of the 27 guides who qualified as they received their hard-earned Blue Badge from Yvonne Leach, President of the Institute of Tourist Guiding. It was a particularly proud moment for ‘Go Make It Happen’ because among the 27 were two of our own: Denisa, our first ever beneficiary ‘recruited’ two years ago, and Marina, our latest guiding beneficiary who won the Sam Harding Award for being the youngest guide to qualify.

Denisa and Marina

Denisa and Marina at the ceremony

GMIH is about youth and enthusiasm in the tourism profession, and we believe strongly that the most prestigious qualification for tourist guides should reflect the demographic profile of London itself: diversity and youth. We are very very proud of all our beneficiaries, not just our six tourist guides (pictured below) but all of our eleven young ambassadors for tourism in the UK and throughout the world. But Wednesday was Denisa’s and Marina’s night. Well done!


The future face of tourist guiding in London: BBTG beneficiaries, past present and future


London: the most visited city in the world. But where is the most visited site in the world?

Great to see that London is officially the most visited city in the world, although the Parisians seem to be disputing it (surprise, surprise!) – see http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/its-official-london-is-the-most-popular-destination-for-tourists-in-the-world-9063988.html

It’s wonderful news for the tourism industry and yet more reason to ensure we have a professional approach to tourism services, with an emphasis on youth, vitality and diversity (some of the key selling points for London).

London may be the most visited city in the world, but I believe the most visited site is the Kaaba in Mecca, the most holy place in Islam and one which all Muslims must visit at least once in their life-time. Over 3 million make the Hajj pilgrimage each year and many millions more do the Umrah (or ‘lesser pilgrimage’).

Is this really ‘tourism’? I believe it is. Until 200 years or so ago – when the Grand Tour became fashionable, and then later on when Thomas Cook got his excursions by rail going – pilgrimages were the main non-trade trips. Think of the Canterbury Tales for example: stories told by pilgrims to while away the outward journey to their destination. Just like tourism today, the pilgrimages generated a huge service industry: accommodation, transport, food, entertainment.

I was reminded of this last week when I went to Saudi Arabia to run a training course for English language teachers at the Umm Al Qura University just outside Mecca (or Makka, as it should be called). More than half the passengers on my British Airways flight to Jeddah, the nearest international airport to Makka, were pilgrims dressed in their traditional white robes in order to do the Umrah (it is not yet the time for Hajj). It was an impressive sight at Heathrow Terminal 5 and on the flight.

Non-Muslims are not encouraged to visit Makka, but by mistake I got to within a few hundred metres of the holy Kaaba. How did that happen, you may ask. Well, the drive from Jeddah to Makka involves two alternative roads, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims. The former is a pristine super-fast highway, the latter involves stretches of poorly made road and super-scary driving. My driver took the wrong turning and we ended up driving through a checkpoint and into downtown Makka, right next to the square where the Kaaba is. Somehow I managed to get away with it, although there was one point when we seriously considered hiding me in the boot of the car!

The Umm Al Qura University is in effect the University of Mecca and is situated in the desert just outside the city. It operates on strict islamic principles and although it was strange not seeing a female at any point, I felt a great sense of beauty and spirituality.

I’m not a religious person, but in a way any trip is a kind of pilgrimage, even a sightseeing trip to London – not only the most-visited, but also the greatest city in the world!

Keith in Mecca

Keith in Mecca

First Fund-raiser of 2014!



Shuffling off the excesses of the Christmas season and embracing those New Year resolutions about getting out more and feeding the intellect rather than the stomach, a group of 24 friends were taken on a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament on Saturday 4th January led by yours truly. We had people from exotic far-flung places such as Colombia, China, Switzerland, Japan, Texas, Finchley and Burnley. All ages as well. And they seemed to enjoy it, even the 14-year-old Chelsea fan said “it was OK” (articulate praise indeed).

Thanks go to Matt Morgan and Monica Carney, who are responsible for organising tours at the Palace of Westminster, for making it all possible and for waiving the usual entrance fee so that all the money donated (£250) goes straight to the ‘Go Make It Happen’ charity fund.

Anyone got any suggestions for the next charity fund-raiser?