Guide London speaks to Ruth Polling, who received the London Blue Badge Tourist Guide of the Year Award (Katrine Prince Memorial Prize) at the Blue Badge presentation ceremony at the Foundling Museum on 9 April.
Guide London: Congratulations on receiving the London Blue Badge Tourist Guide of the Year award – how does it feel? Ruth Polling: Completely overwhelming! After all the hard work of the course I was so delighted to get the Badge the prize is just a bonus. My colleagues will tell you I was so surprised it was comical – I nearly fell off my chair in front of everyone!
Guide London: What did you think of the course? Ruth Polling: It was much more work than I expected. Jennifer and Wendy who run the course were lovely and very supportive throughout. The lectures were variable but the practice sessions on Saturdays were amazing – such good preparation for the exams.
Guide London: What made you want to become a Blue Badge Tourist Guide? Ruth Polling: I’ve always loved history and London, but it was when I went travelling and saw other tourist guides in other places that I realised what a great job it must be. The opportunity to meet new people every day and show off the city I love really appealed to me.
Guide London: What did you do before? Ruth Polling: I was a politician (yes really!). Elected to Islington Council at 25, I stood down at the 2010 election.
Ruth Rolling. Photo: ©Tina Engström.
Guide London: What was your first job as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide? Ruth Polling: Nice early morning for a cruise ship job from Southampton through a translator. It was an interesting start!
Guide London: Have you got lots of work lined up? Ruth Polling: I had set up a couple of jobs for myself before I even qualified and I have got a few more from very kind established guides, but I need to work on getting more in the diary.
Guide London: Are you specialising in any particular type of guiding? Ruth Polling: Unlike many students I loved the coach practices so I hope to get lots of coach work. And I specialised in military history at University so with the 100th anniversary coming up I am hoping to do lots of World War One themed tours.
Guide London: What is the best thing about being a Blue Badge Tourist Guide? Ruth Polling: I am looking forward to meeting lots of people and showing them some of my favourite places. But I’m not the best person to ask – you’ll have to come back to me a year into the job!
Guide London: What’s your favourite place in London? Ruth Polling: Bunhill Fields. I used to live very close by and not only does it have lots of interesting graves and monuments, it is also a wonderful peaceful haven on the edge of the City. London is so busy people forget we have such amazing small parks!