Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire was honoured to join the Hereford Guild of Guides this year as they celebrated 40 years of showcasing Hereford City to fascinated visitors, with their enthralling City walking tours; and it all started with the vision of one determined lady, Jean O’Donnell.
We all know what it’s like to visit a new town or City and to take a casual stroll with a street map, taking in some of the landmarks and obvious visitor destinations. Yet there is nothing like a knowledgeable Guide to give you that deeper insight, to draw attention to the little things you might miss that piece a story together. It’s like having a narrator to a photo album.
This is exactly what the dedicated men and women of the Guild of Guides bring to enhance Herefordshire’s essential tourism offer and the memorable experience of those holiday makers and, what’s more, the Guides are all volunteers.
Talks began in 1980, when Jean asked the then Mayor of Hereford, Mary Bew, for her moral support in creating a Guild of Tourist Guides to help boost tourism in historic Hereford City. Jean’s credentials were far-reaching; having originated in Lambeth, Jean moved to Herefordshire in the 1960s when her husband became a Headmaster in Bromyard. Herself a teacher, she continued her longstanding work with the Workers Education Association (WEA) while teaching in Hereford and undertaking a BA in English. Her deep interest in local history, along with her language, creative and artistic skills, saw her make valuable literary contributions and lead field trips for The Woolhope Club, with tenures as Vice President and President. Thereafter she founded the Annual Herefordshire Local History Day – much loved by local professional and amateur historians alike.
So, in 1981 the The City of Hereford Mayor’s Guides was founded, and this title remains to this day on the badges given to new guide members alongside the City’s coat of arms. In 2010 the continuing success of the Guild of Guides was acknowledged by the first ever award of The Mayor’s Commendation to the Guild of Guides. In 2011 Jean was awarded an MBE for her services to the Community, clearly including her contributions to Tourism, Adult Education and Charities in Hereford.
During that time it is conservatively estimated that the Guild has shown over. 50,000 visitors around the historic Saxon City of Hereford with themed and general walking tours and trained over 120 Guides.
The four decades of the Guild was celebrated with a Luncheon fittingly held at The Green Dragon Hotel, one of Britain’s oldest hotels and a landmark in Hereford City. Just over 60 people attended to salute not only their service but also to celebrate Jean’s founding work and continued involvement.
Become a City Tour Guide
The City Tour Guides are now looking for more volunteer Members to continue their invaluable work for Hereford City’s tourism. If you are an active individual with the a passion for history and culture, and you’d enjoy showing small groups around the City, a recruitment programme and training is commencing in January 2022. See more information here.
The Hereford Guild of Guides – The Guild was formed in 1981 as a non-profit making body to assist tourism in the City. The guides are unpaid volunteers who have made a study of the origins and development of Hereford. They have been accepted as the Mayor’s Official Guides and are proud to wear a badge with the city’s coat-of-arms. Each guide prepares his or her own route, varying it to suit the walkers and the weather. Every walk will take in places of particular interest in the centre; and though it is not usual to go into buildings, those of special importance that are open will be pointed out. The guide will tell you about the history of the City and suggest other places you may care to visit on your own. For further information contact Fiona Rawlinson on firstname.lastname@example.org www.herefordguidedwalks.org.uk
Workers Education Association – the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in England and Scotland. Founded in 1903, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is a charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional education into the heart of communities. With the support of nearly 2,000 volunteers, 2,000 tutors and over 5,200 members, they deliver friendly, accessible and enjoyable courses for adults from all walks of life. www.wea.org.uk
The Woolhope Club – The Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club was founded in 1851 to further the study of the natural, historical and social environment of Herefordshire. Their studies were published as yearly ‘Transactions’ which continue to this day, in which academic papers as well as reports of the Club’s activities during the year are published. The Club’s library is housed within the Hereford library building in Broad Street, and visitors are welcomed on Thursday mornings. www.woolhopeclub.org.uk