[Classic Becca with:] is a business series interviewing entrepreneurs focusing on the what, how and whys of being a creative business owner or working in an unusual career.
Susanne Krogh-Nielsen | Professional Blue Badge Tourist Guide
What were you doing before being a Blue Badge Tourist Guide?
I moved to the UK from Denmark to study. I have a BA in Hotel Management from a UK university but after I graduated I realised I didn't like working in Hotels. While studying I was working for Tate Entertaining at Tate Galleries, Tate Entertaining was the in-house caterer and after I graduated they actually created a junior position for me. I was with Tate for about 6 years before deciding to leave and try working in hotels again, I ended up in Scotland. I lasted 6 months before I moved back down south.
I moved into the basement of a friends and became 'Sue who lived in the basement' it was fun. For the next year and half I was working in a school as a teaching assistant and also working in a local pub. I loved being a teaching assistant. Unfortunately it just didnt pay very well so I found myself in the City of London working in a law firm and running their in-house hospitality department. When that ended I was back working as a teaching assistant and also events in London before I got hired as an events manager for Rhubarb one of Londons top events caterers.
'Susanne you are a teacher. The world is your classroom'
What attracted you to doing tours of London and beyond?
I wanted to try someting new and work for myself. I wanted to deal with people and I wanted to teach so being a Blue Badge Tourist Guide I do feel I am teaching and opening peoples eyes to art, culture and multiculturalism. I also work as a tour director for an American language organisation and one day I was talking to one of the teachers and I happened to mention that I wanted to be a teacher and her words were 'Susanne you are a teacher. The world is your classroom'. I had never thought of it like that but it's true.
"Becoming a Blue Badge Tourist Guide takes two years with night school and Saturday work"
What is involved in becoming a Blue Badge Tourist Guide?
I was working for an events caterer at the time and I had never heard of a Blue Badge Tourist Guide before. On this occasion the venue was a boat on the River Thames and the lady was doing a commentary as we were bopping up and down. I started talking to her and thought what she was doing sounded pretty. At this point I was desperately trying to get out of catering and events - having worked in the industry since I was 13 years old - and just tired of it. I had looked in to becoming a teacher, but my uni degree did not convert well and like so many other people you get stuck in a profession for years because 'it's there'. I mulled over this Blue Badge thing for a while. It was then a waiting game until I could apply for a entry exam.
Becoming a Blue Badge Tourist Guide takes two years with night school and Saturday work. At the end we take eleven exams. We are all professionally qualified and insured and it give us the privilege of guiding in locations that no other person can, such as Windsor Castle, Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.
I have a tour that I take people on when they visit that envelops quite a few sights into one walk. If you were going to do a tour collating your favourite set of sites in one walk what would it be?
Oh I always love showing people Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace. Also passing Downing street as well. That route is the centre of our democracy and monarchy all in less than a square mile. People are fascinated by our history and how old our buildings are.
What is your favourite part of London?
I quite like the City of London as you have such a mix of buildings all in a square mile (give or take) 2000 year old Roman walls mixed with shards of glass and churches in all the nook and crannies. I find it fascinating.
What is your Favourite Museum?
I am quite fond of The British Museum. You have thousands of objects from all over the world and each has a fascinating history.
Do you have a favourite artist?
Not as such but my favorite painting/object is The Wilton Diptych at the National Gallery. Not sure why. It's beautiful. The artists which is unknown did a fantastic job and it's fascinating to see what artists were capable of creating hundreds of years ago.
"I am Danish and have lived in the UK for 20 years"
What is your favourite place to stop and reflect with a brew?
Anywhere that will sell me a cup of coffee - I do try to use independent coffee shops - all though I am quite fond of Ole and Steen which is a Danish Bakery that has recently opned here in London. Its a little slice of home - I am Danish and have lived in the UK for 20 years!
If you have any questions for Susanne please leave a comment in the box below!
For more information on the tours you can contact Susanne via her Website
If you are interested in taking part in this series please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your business and links and a little bit about yourself.