Ready, Steady, Go Make it Happen!


Over the past four months, four Blue Badge Guides and two Blue Badge Guides in the making have been training hard and preparing for The Vitality British 10K London Charity Run which took place on the morning of Sunday 10th July.

This was all in aid of the brilliant charity Go Make it Happen, established by Blue Badge Guide Keith Harding in memory of Sam Harding which aims to help young people to achieve their dreams and ambitions in the tourism industry.

After several training sessions that took place in Hyde Park and which started off underneath the gaze of the suitably athletic statue of Achilles, the team was ready to take to the streets of London.

It was eerily quiet and traffic free in central London on the morning of the race (if only all coach panos could be like this!). The team gathered together for our Mr. Motivator style warm up at Waterloo Place right next to the Crimean War Memorial. It was a familiar and reassuring sight especially with the symbolic figure of Victory on top generously handing out the laurel wreaths before the race had even begun.

After the warm up, it was time to head to the start line which was on Piccadilly. The music was pumping, the pace runners were in position, a last minute stretch here and there and we were off! The weather was mercifully cool and the mid-race smattering of rain couldn’t have come at a better time.

It was a huge turnout with an estimated 20,000 runners in all attracted by the chance to run one of the most unique routes in the world and to take in the sights of this amazing city including Nelson’s Column, London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The final stretch took us over Westminster Bridge and back again, a loop round Parliament Square and then onto the home straight down Whitehall with a finish line outside the magnificent Banqueting House.

It was a great day and a stellar effort was put in by all including our lovely partners whose critical support was really appreciated! Thanks to the fundraising work and all of the amazingly generous donations given, the GMIH team managed to raise over £3,000 for this fantastic cause!

Dominic Burris-North, London BBTG

My journey begins.

Hey all.

It’s been 3 months since I found out I’d been accepted onto the 2016 blue badge guiding course and thanks to ‘Go make it happen’  I was able to accept without financial worry on my shoulders. I had heard about this wonderful organisation through friends and the blue badge course itself and was told how enthusiastic the founders were in pushing under 30’s to reach their goals and full potential. The help comes in the way of financial and verbal support, which I have been hugely greatful for.

After recieving a few emails from the head of the organisation Keith Harding, I knew how open and friendly GMIH were going to be. Keith told me how keen they are in helping young entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and awarded me a grant with a sincere proposition to want to help.

This grant has enabled me to make purchases such as books, electronical equipment and course fees that without would of been a struggle. The blue badge course will help me achieve my tour guiding goals and take me to where I want to be and I owe GMIH a huge thanks for believing in my potential and allowing me to aim high.

I will be blogging my adventure and explaining in detail how GMIH have been helping me along the way.

Very excited.

Emily D






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

The most fascinating course ever?!


My name is Danny Parlour and this is my first blog for Go Make It Happen, the charity which has supported me on the 2014/16 London Blue Badge Guide course. The help I’ve received from them has been invaluable and I feel very grateful.

I’m typing now six months into the course and what a six months it’s been!

When I started in September 2014, I was so excited, bright-eyed and eager to start. Now I can safely say I’m still excited, perhaps tired-eyed and eager to finish, and get my blue-oval-shaped-pendant… and start guiding!

Before I had even applied for the course, lots of Blue Badge Guides had told me just how broad the course is, and they weren’t kidding. It covers all areas of British life from our separation from what is now Europe (which occurred about 8,000 years ago) to what’s happening now and what’s due to happen in the future! :O

Two evenings a week (during term) we have a lecture, covering a different topic taught by an expert BBTG in that particular field, which can include anything from art to agriculture, medicine to music… and EVERYTHING in between. This is followed by a ‘practical’ each Saturday which usually involves us traveling to an out of town site, visiting a London site or doing coach/walk practice around the capital!

What I’ve especially enjoyed so far about the course is the people I’ve got to meet. All of the 35 other students come from such different backgrounds and most speak a language! I’m afraid to say I don’t, but If I get round to having the time to learn one then I think I’m in good company!

As the course continues what I’ve come to realise is just how much I love London. There’s really too many things to list, but I just think what’s on offer is just incredible and I feel very proud to be a course such as this one which allows me to explore it completely!

More to follow shortly, watch this space…

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!!

Angkor Wat

When I was in living in Asia I would often bump into avid explorers proudly clutching a tattered but well-travelled copy of Lonely Planet. Their future footsteps commonly included a short trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. UNESCO has described Angkor Wat as one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia and it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. The temple is nestled amongst the Angkor archaeological park and was built in the first half of the 12th century.  Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Vishnu and Hindu worship before later switching to Buddhism. It has a remarkable and mystical background that’s intrigued many countries who have tried to claim its vast ruins for their own. Nowadays tourists flock to the site intrigued by its beauty and its impressive reviews.

Angkor Wat (Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wikipedia)

Angkor Wat (Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wikipedia)

The tourism board of Cambodia proudly declared that Angkor Wat is an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, and has an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. The temple itself even sits proudly on Cambodia’s national flag.  Such emphatic promotion of a single location has unfortunately led to some more serious recent concerns. Angkor Wat is now in danger of being completely overcrowded and seriously damaged.

Official figures show there were around 2.3 million foreign visitors to Angkor Wat in 2013 compared with just 4000 in 1994. That makes for a staggering 57,000% increase in just under 20 years. It’s simply not sustainable to have such a high volume of people going to the same area year after year without proper zoning and management. Mass crowds are damaging the temples foundations and local hotel construction is harming the environment. Sadly Cambodia  hasn’t had the resources to properly maintain the park due to large political unrest throughout the 20th century.

Ta Prohm, where Tomb Raider was filmed, next to Angkor Wat (Image: UNESCO)

Ta Prohm, where Tomb Raider was filmed,
next to Angkor Wat (Image: UNESCO)

In recent times however, increased tourism development in Angkor has been encouraging for Cambodia’s economy as it continues to expand. In 2012, Cambodia’s economy grew by 7.3 percent but it’s still somewhat hampered by financial leakage and increased profits going to multinational companies.

We are entering a critical phase in Angkor Wat’s illustrious history. If Cambodia is to flourish under reasonable political stability it needs to emphasise other locations in the park, and other locations around the country. More rigorous management programs and better infrastructure should be a matter of top priority. Sustainable initiatives make Angkor Wat a more attractive destination in the long run. The last thing they want to do is discourage people from going altogether.

Dave Hunter
(GMIH Beneficiary)


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