Fountain of knowledge Barbara celebrates 50 years as Norwich tour guide
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014
For 50 years, Barbara Miller has been leading visitors on tours of Norwich as a city guide. To mark this milestone Mrs Miller talks about the joys of the job, her favourite spots and the biggest changes she has witnessed.
The inspiration to become a Norwich tour guide came on a visit to one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
Barbara Miller had taken her daughters on a guided tour of the Tower of London and left the capital with her heart set on the role.
'I saw the tourist guide do all the talking and the tourists doing all the listening and I thought, 'that's for me',' she remembered.
She enquired about becoming a guide and started volunteering in 1964.
And half a century on, the now 85-year-old, who lives on Christchurch Road, is still performing the role for the Association of City of Norwich Tourist Guides.
'I love it and I love the city,' said Mrs Miller, who has been married to husband Martin for 62 years.
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'The day I get up and think 'Oh, I don't want to do it' will be the day I give up. I wake up on the mornings that I have a group and think, 'what are they going to be like today?''
The former secretary at the Norwich High School added: 'Being a guide has taught me not just about the facts but it makes you think about what you want to do- I'm out to inform and entertain people not to teach them.
'People are visitors and you want to open their eyes. If it is a successful tour, at the end people will be pointing out things and asking you questions, which means you've opened their eyes.'
Gwen Digby, secretary at the Association of City of Norwich Tourist Guides, has commended Mrs Miller's services to the city, and said: 'Barbara is unique in being a tourist guide for so long.
'She's served the city and is a fountain of knowledge and she passes that and her energy on to everyone she meets.
'She's been involved with passing on her knowledge to the new guides and is always willing to share.'
So, what's the most bizarre incident that has happened on one of her tours?
'In the very early days I took a tour and thought it went well. Someone came up to me after and I thought he was going to ask me a question about what I'd said during the tour. But he asked me if I knew somewhere to get his teeth repaired. I didn't.'
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Barbara's top city destinations:
• The Cathedral and the centre of the city: 'People love these two places because they are always thriving.'
• Colegate and St Michael at Coslany Church: 'I think the church is quite extraordinary and is not taken advantage of. It could be in the centre of any city. It shows how rich Norwich was as a city-to have five churches on one street.'
• Great Hospital: 'It is so rewarding – architecturally, historically and socially – it shows Norwich is an interesting city.'
• Carrow Abbey: 'People love coming to see this because it is not open often. So it's a popular attraction when it is opened on the heritage days. It's wonderful and my father was a garden boy there when he left school.'
• The buildings around the city: 'Norwich had a great period of prosperity during the 1700/1800s. And this is reflected in the distinguished Georgian buildings around the city.'