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

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

My New York adventure

Hi, my name is Nathalie and this will be my first blog post on here. I will write about my big adventure I was able to do earlier this summer, thanks to Go Make It Happen.

I have very recently finished my undergraduate degree in Tourism Management at Bournemouth University. Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer and had to take over a year out for treatments etc. Despite this I did decide to return to university and although it has taken me longer than I intended to, I am immensely proud to have had the strength to go back. I have a great interest in the tourism industry, but with a particular passion for disaster management. For those unfamiliar with this concept, disaster management is essentially the management of responsibilities and resources to lessen the impact of disasters. So when I retuned to uni I was dedicated to work towards getting a foot in this particular field. As a result, I was accepted on to an international diploma course in Humanitarian Assistance at Fordham University, New York. The course was run by the Centre for International Humanitarian Cooperation.

It was a four week long and very intensive course, and one of the best experiences of my life. Being in New York for four weeks alone was incredible, but the knowledge I gained, the people I met and the confidence boost it gave me was invaluable. Our tutors were all very experienced from the field and we had many guest lectures from organisations such as the UN and various NGO’s. My fellow students also came from all over the world with individual knowledge and experience from the field. I was surrounded by so many inspiring people and the experience I gained by just being in this environment will stay with me for a very long time.

Although it was really hard work, I enjoyed every minute of it and it has made me even more determined than before that this is the field I want to work within. It may sound very far off from tourism, but I believe it is a field which the tourism industry should have closer relationships with. As tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, it has a significant power to influence a range of stakeholders. For my final paper of the course I did write about this and the importance for the tourism industry to acknowledge the implications of humanitarian and environmental disasters on the industry.

Due to my medical condition, I was unable to work alongside my studies in my final year. Therefore the contribution I was very kindly given from GMIH made it possible for me to attend this course. So I want to give a great thank you to GMIH for making it possible. And to anyone struggling: Go Make It Happen, nothing is impossible as long as you have the drive.

Nathalie xx

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:


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