A Historic Podcast with 2 Excellent History Tour Guides!

Last updated: Nov 6th, 2023

Always looking to create ever more engaging and quality and valuable content for you to enjoy – we ventured into the world of podcasting recently for the very first time!

What an introduction it was too as we invited two HUGE figures from the realm of History Touring, Trevor and Tony. They answered questions from our Marketing Manager Nicky and showed us why having a History Tour Guide on your trip enhances yours and your students experience!

The full podcast is a button click away with a written summary below.

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‘There’s not two men who talk more thoroughly and eloquently about the vital role history plays in our school curriculum and the role being on tour plays in engaging young people in history.’

Nicky Astle, Rayburn Tours


Who are Trevor Booker and Tony Smith?

History Tour Guide Trevor Booker chats with two students whilst out on tour

Trevor Booker

Trevor spent a HUGE amount of time in the RAF (37 years) in different stations and bases across the world. And whilst doing that his curious nature and avid desire to uncover the stories of the past compelled him to regularly visit historic sites.

With years imparting unending historical wisdom on tours and students, Trevor Booker is incredibly valued for his ability to engage and challenge students as well as creating a safe space to talk about horrific events of the past.

History Tour Guide Tony Smith

Tony Smith

Much like Trevor, Tony is incredibly curious and always researching how he can tell the story with more emotion, poignancy and relevancy to our times.

Starting with a desire to understand where the name from the back of a 1914 Star medal came from, he’s toured Ypres, Somme and Normandy countless times. Which is why we recently asked him how we could better enhance our itineraries and tours for those destinations.

The Mayor of Looe, he has over 1000 history books and is constantly looking to improve his historical toolkit.


‘It was about following up the stories of the men from the past.’

Tony Smith, History Tour Guide




Students listen to a speaker off camera whilst at a memorial.


Engaging young people with stories from the past and personalising their tour


It was clear to see that both men are incredibly passionate about history – give them a day of your time and your knowledge database in their historical areas will be all the richer for it!

But something that they’re keen to provide to students who they tour with is engagement through stories of the past. To put a lens on the gravity of the situation by connecting them to an individual and personalising the visit so the raw emotion and history resonates.

Tony talked about teachers finding their relatives, a girl in floods of tears after finding her relative’s grave and on that same tour another student discovering their long lost relative’s resting place.



‘But as we were leaving, another boy noticed a name on a gravestone that sounded familiar and he said “I’m sure that’s the name of my family”. He got on the phone to his grandma and she told him that was his long-lost relative.’

Tony Smith, History Tour Guide



Trevor Booker talks to students outside on a sunny day whilst on a history tour.


A safe space for students to talk about events of the past


With the areas both men focus on, it’s inevitable that difficult, tragic, and challenging topics will come up in conversation.

But both are experts at managing those delicate chats with the respect and space they deserve. When the retelling of the past is so deeply centred on a huge loss of life it can be hard to comprehend for students.

However, they make comparisons with subjects they are likely to have an interest in – like football – and they do it perfectly for students looking to learn from the mistakes of the past.



‘History matters. You can’t alter it – it’s happened. What you’ve got to do is learn from it.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



Two students look at a World War exhibit.


Humanising both sides and opening up different lanes of thinking…


It’s when Trevor and Tony use both sides to show the massive death toll that it suddenly starts to open up different lanes of thinking.

You probably know all too well of the neat and well-kept cemeteries of the Allied forces – where each man has his own grave. But with German graves, mass burials were common – but not for the reason you might think.

They were there because German culture at the time said soldiers were lying with their brothers in arms. And this is something both History Tour Guides get across in such a respectful, engaging and educational way – which they also do alongside the amount of people who died, comparing the number of deaths to the number of people in a school to really bring the weight home.

Such experiences and stories, all whilst standing in the place, make it all the more impactful.

They bring untold logistical, network and practical savviness too


Touring the sites as often as Trevor and Tony means they’ve created a vast array of deep and useful relationships with which to call on – as well as knowing their way around.

Stories abound of getting last minutes wreaths for ceremonies, tweaking itineraries to optimise tours and hearing of new discoveries from locals that heighten and enhance their knowledge.



‘If you visit as many sites as we know you build a rapport over the years and you get rewarded at the end of the day with more information if something local has happened – like a new discovery.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



Trevor Booker presents to students at a World War 2 memorial.


And they continually hone their craft too…


Both are members of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides and are constantly searching for new information and ways to hone their HTG skills.

To this end, they both go out in groups of guides to better their understanding of sites and memorials and moments from the past, so they can reengage and retell those stories in a fresh way.

The skills and knowledge both hold and their desire to continually refine and polish their skills is something else entirely.



‘As a guide there’s always something that comes out the woodwork – we’re always willing to learn and we spark off each other and how the stories unfold!’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



Understanding your classes different backgrounds to personalise tours further


Both are advocates of really bringing the international impact of war and the many different and diverse cultures it affected.

When they know of a tour or schools background, they often – where possible – research to see if they can connect that class to a site, memorial or an exhibit in a museum, much like recognising women’s huge and incredible contribution to WW1 or visiting the Neuve Chappele Indian War Memorial when a classes ancestry links to those areas.

It brings the class closer to the story. It’s no longer just a distant war fought by distant people. It’s the classes great uncle or the lost grave of a great grandparent that no-one in the family has visited before.



‘We like to find out the background of the school and their ancestry as we can tailor the tour to visit specific sites. I toured with a class recently where their heritage was Indian. So we went to the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial – it gets everyone involved.’

Tony Smith, History Tour Guide



Students looks at the names on a memorial


Individual stories to create lasting, poignant moments


Undoubtedly the most lasting and emotional moments on tour are when your students can connect with their relatives by having a poignant chat with their gravestone.

These tie in with putting a focus on individual people who your students can connect with. A lens to place their own family alongside the wider, sometimes difficult to comprehend, context of a World War.



‘I always leave them with the headstone. They’re pretty embarrassed at first but normally we get their best friends to sit with them and I take away the whole school – and leave them there to talk.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



There’s even more stories to bring history home…


Trev and Tony are bursting with anecdotes and connections to the events of the World Wars – with literary references playing a strong and emotionally raw part.

There’s a plethora of references to well-known poets and works of literature that feature in their deep and rich knowledge.

Authors like:

  • Siegfried Sasson
  • Robert Graves
  • Wilfried Owens
  • Rupert Brooke
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • And even the gravestone of the soldier who inspired Peter Pan

And what’s even more impressive, and allowing students to connect and engage even further, is your class can visit the place some of these authors referenced.

One of the most standout and poignant moments is asking a student to read a poem whilst at a memorial, like ‘In Flanders Fields’, which provides a deeply resonant and lasting moment for all involved.



‘It’s really emotional seeing a student read out a poem – they do it with such respect. It’s a very heartfelt experience.’

Nicky Astle, Rayburn Tours



Gates of Auschwitz in the foreground, with students from a Rayburn Tours history tour in behind them.


And their most impactful place to visit is?


With a tragic amount to choose from, Tony picked the battle for the Ypres Salient and how so much life was lost fighting over a little bit of land.

Whereas Trev noted how Sachsenhausen and the atrocities and the stark, difficult retelling of those stories really hits home for students.



‘Sachsenhausen in Berlin and when you realise what man did to man…’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



History Tour Guide, Richard Broadhead, presents with a student dressed up in clothing from the World War to other students at the Hooge Crater.


Finally, what are the benefits of a History Tour Guide?


We’re HUGE advocates of History Tour Guides as they bring home the power of history and connect and engage your students with poignant, relevant and comparable stories to really bring it all to life.

They do it with their own vast knowledge, props, logistical savviness and understanding what works best for each group to give that impact and insight and emotion.



‘I think it’s worthwhile having a History Tour Guide because of our knowledge and the personal stories we can deliver.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide



Ready for a history tour with an History Tour Guide?

You can find the full podcast with both giants of history right here. It’s a full dive into the merits of an HTG and why every history tour should have one.

If you’re looking to book your history tour and don’t know where to begin, call or email us and we can have a good old chinwag about which tour suits you and your students.

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