Latest News

Latest News, Tour content update, Tour Dates Update

We are back!

A relaxation of the COVID restrictions means I can re-start Walking Tours around Carrickfergus from 24 May 2021. Finally, the Teddy Bear (yet to be named) can come out of his suitcase!

Join me on a walk around my hometown to uncover the story of Carrickfergus as it was during the Second World War. We’ll visit some of the locations that were important during this period to understand what it was like to live through this most momentous period of the 20th Century.

All Tours include extensive contemporary photographs and artifacts, as well as a few specially commissioned reproductions. Through these, you will experience how the people, buildings, and infrastructure of Carrickfergus responded to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Tour Options

The Tour has a few Route permutations, from 1.2 to 2.5 miles.

The Public Tour is the shorter version, taking about 90 minutes to complete. Public Tours are advertised through Eventbrite.

Private Tours are available on request: please get in touch with your requirements and I’ll do my best to organise a Tour for you. Private Tours can be tailored to meet your specific requirements and interests. The Route and content can be adapted, and visits to additional locations included (subject to their opening hours).

Prices

Adults (aged 16 and over): £8

Juniors (Under 16): £5

Any Questions?

Ultimately, I want you to have a great experience on my Tour. Feel free to contact me to find out more, talk through what you would like included on your Tour and even make suggestions. Private Tours can be as bespoke as you want.

If you have any queries about the Tour, please do get in touch.

Phone/Text: 07916 780474

Email: leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com

Uncategorized

Bevrijdingsdag 2021

My late mother was Dutch. She grew up as a child in Eindhoven while it was under German occupation.

She was always immensely grateful to those Allied service personnel who risked (and in far too many cases lost) everything to liberate her country.

The Dutch, as a nation, have not forgotten either. Tomorrow (5 May) is their Liberation Day – Bevrijdingsdag.

Awash with colour on Bevrijdingsdag

It is a really big deal for the Dutch. The whole country flies the national flag, and residents turn buildings, villages, towns and cities into a swathe of orange as flags, banners and bunting bedeck the nation. It is one of the most respectful, emotional and colourful commemorations in the world.

As my mum is no longer with us, on her behalf to all those brave young men – bedankt iedereen

Uncategorized

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bubble

As we start a cautious exit from COVID lockdown, it is now possible for me to restart my Guided Walking Tours.

I am certified as “Good to Go” and have recently completed the WorldHost 2020 assessment. Consequently, I’m very aware of the risks still associated with the virus. I have, therefore, decided to set a few temporary ground rules:

  • I do not intend, for the short term anyway, to have multiple households or bubbles on the same Tour. I will only accept a booking from ONE person on behalf of a household or support bubble (minimum 2, maximum 8 people in total). NOTE: it is the responsibility of the person booking the Tour to ensure that Guests in their Group are from the same household or constitute a support bubble.
  • I encourage all Guests to bring their own hand sanitiser, but as a contingency I will have some available on the Tour.
  • I will wear a face covering at any point where I am within 2 metres of a Tour Guest, for example where Guests need to approach me to have a closer look at a picture or artifact. I would appreciate Guests do likewise.
  • The Tour Route (1.2 to 2 miles, depending on your Route preference) is outdoors, which greatly reduces the risk of virus transmission.

Seven Steps to Book a Tour

  1. Contact me with your preferred dates/times (contact details are on the homepage)
  2. I’ll confirm which of those I can accommodate.
  3. We agree on a date & time for a Tour.
  4. A Method of payment is agreed.
  5. Once the booking is confirmed, I will provide you with any relevant joining instructions.
  6. Please arrive promptly at the agreed date & time to start your Tour.
  7. Experience a unique Guided Walking Tour of Carrickfergus.

Looking Ahead

As soon as further restrictions allow, I will be able to start taking bookings on a less restrictive manner. Apologies, in the meantime, if my current ground rules don’t suit you.

Even though the number of Guests who can join a Tour has been reduced, there is no change to the pricing: £8 Adults (16+), £5 Juniors (8-16), FREE for those under 7 (children that young may not be interested in joining a Tour, but are welcome to come along).

Feel free to contact me for further information or to ask me a questions about the Tour.

Tour content update, Tour Dates Update

April Re-Start

Fingers crossed, brighter times are ahead.

I’m now one of the growing minority (soon to be the majority) of people who have had the COVID vaccine. I’m hoping this will be a significant step towards a return to normality – or as close to that as possible.

From my Guided Walking Tour’s perspective, I’ve put in a shed-load of effort during the lockdown to make sure I can begin meeting new Guests, and sharing the story of my hometown as it was during the Second World War.

Busy bee, busy me

Anyone who knows me will have often heard me say “every day is a school day”, and I’ve been true to my word. I’ve completed online classes in Customer Care, Social Media for Business and am part-way through a Tour Guiding course.

I’ve also had a lot of support from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council through their Storify my Business and Digital Boost programmes, regular check-ins from their Tourism folk and timely emailed updates.

Thanks to some financial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I’ve been able to track down and purchase some exhibits to show Tour Guests; invest in some audio equipment so that Guests can maintain Social Distancing and still hear me; bought licences from National Museums NI for a few wartime photos which I will be able to share on my website and social media channels; and upgraded my website (though I’m still tinkering with it, so it will change a bit over the next few weeks).

Starting Soon….

Bottom line is that I hope to be in a position to re-start Tours in April, subject to appropriate guidance. Safe to say I’m excited about the possibility of recommencing Tours.

The best way to keep informed about my Tours is to either check in with my website now and again, or follow my Facebook Page.

Additionally, I’ve looked at the content of my Tour, and the exhibits I now have, and think there is enough there to be able to offer presentations to groups (once we are allowed to meet like that again). I’ll update you on this possibility through my website and Facebook Page.

Finally, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions about my Tour, please let me know. I want to keep improving!

Looking forward to meeting new Guests and showing off my hometown.

Adrian

Latest News

Lead the Way Tour receives grant of £3,000 from the Heritage Recovery Fund to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Lead The Way Tour has been awarded £3,000 to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Lottery Heritage Fund announced grants to help 50 organisations and 41 individuals adapt, recover and re-open following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heritage Recovery Fund is being distributed by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the Department for Communities. The fund is part of the £29million Executive allocation to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors in Northern Ireland.

Grants from the Heritage Recovery Fund were awarded to a wide range of organisations and individuals in the heritage sector, from historic sites, attractions and landscapes, to tour guides and specialist heritage conservators. The grant will enable Lead The Way Tour to invest in developing the experience and cover lost income as a result of not being able to conduct guided walking tours in 2020.

Lead The Way Tour owner, Adrian Hack, said “I’m really grateful to the Department for Communities and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for providing this funding. Thanks to this grant, I can continue to develop the tour content, acquire more exhibits to share with tour guests, convert the tour content into a presentation which can be delivered in schools, community groups and other settings, examine opportunities to offer virtual tours online, and ensure my guided walking tours are safe and ready for guests when tours can re-start again.”

Adrian added, “My tour concentrates on the transformation Carrickfergus went through during the Second World War: it’s factories were converted to make goods needed for the war effort; civic buildings re-purposed to help civilians protect themselves from potential attack; army camps built on surrounding land for British, American and Belgian troops; and the civilian population endured rationing, air raid precautions and the blackout.

“It is ironic that in the year we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War, the globe was once again engulfed in a worldwide event. The COVID-19 Pandemic greatly restricted my tours during 2020, but with the assistance of this grant I am much more positive about 2021.”

Uncategorized

GIFT VOUCHERS AVAILABLE NOW!

Looking for something different to give to a loved one or friend at Christmas?

I’m offering Gift Vouchers for Private Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, which can be used during 2021.

My Second World War themed Guided Walking Tour is the only one of its type in Northern Ireland. It looks at how one small town in Northern Ireland adapted to wartime conditions.

BACK IN TIME

We all have ancestors who experienced the impact of the Second World War on their lives. My Tour takes you back to that historic period through the eyes of those folk who lived, worked or were stationed in Carrickfergus between 1939 and 1945.

On the Tour you will discover how factories changed production to meet the needs of the War Effort; local people lived with rationing, air raid precautions and the blackout; overseas troops based themselves in and around the town in preparation for entering battlefields on North African and European soil; buildings were re-purposed to become military prisons, stores and accommodation; and how some of the remnants of that time are hidden in plain sight!

GIFT VOUCHER

If you know someone who might enjoy coming on a Private Guided Walking Tour, why not get them a Gift Voucher?

Priced at just £7, it can be used to book a Tour during 2021.

If the Voucher holder wants to bring along additional guests, they can be added at the time of booking for just £7 per person (usually £8).

The Voucher holder can contact me anytime during 2021 to arrange a suitable day and time for their Private Tour.

ORDERING A VOUCHER

To order a Gift Voucher, drop me an email at leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com with your name and postal address, and I’ll reply with payment details.

UK postage & packaging is included in the price.

Order your Voucher by 17 December 2020, to allow sufficient time for postal delivery.

If you live in a BT38 postcode area I can deliver a Voucher personally right up to 23 December 2020 and accept cash on delivery.

If you have any queries about the Voucher or the Tour, please get in touch using the email address above.

Adrian (your personal guide)

Tour Dates Update

Tour Arrangements – Autumn and Winter

2020 did not exactly go to plan!

Well, this wasn’t the way this year was supposed to pan out! The arrival of COVID-19 was a real setback, particularly as I was unable to run any tours from mid-March for three months. This meant that I missed out on a series of special tours planned for the V.E. Day weekend back in May.

All things considered, though, I had a more successful set of tours, all things considered. Despite the virus restrictions introduced in March, which brought the country to a standstill, I was able to re-commence tours in mid-June by adhering to specific virus countermeasures..

Soon after the re-start, a younger guest came on a tour. Based on feedback, I re-visited the content of my tour and developed a version aimed at a younger audience – a Junior Tour was born!

Through the Junior and Scheduled Tours, I met some really great people. A huge thanks to everyone who came along, especially the children who joined my new Junior Tours. I genuinely enjoyed meeting each and every guest.

Trees in Autumn Forest

The Changing of the Seasons

With the nights already closing in and the weather becoming more unsettled, I’ll not be arranging Scheduled Tours during the Autumn and Winter months. Instead, I’ll be offering tours on request until March 2021. If you want to come on a tour during this period, please get in touch and I’ll do my best to organise one on a day/time that suits you. I know the weather has a big impact on deciding when to go on a tour, so feel free to contact me at fairly short notice if the forecast looks promising.

Meanwhile, work continues to develop the tour for next year: further research into the town’s experiences during the war; hunting for more photos and pieces of memorabilia; and improving my “digital output” (fancy name for my website and social media channels!).

Throughout the Autumn and Winter, I’ll keep adding snippets of information and updates about the tour through my website and social media outlets – follow them to avoid missing out. The various ways to get in touch and follow my social media channels can be found here: https://leadthewaytour.com/contact-me-2/

More to come

Before I forget, some things to look forward to over the next wee while:

  • Carrickfergus Castle is due to re-open on 1 October;
  • The Guard House near the Town Hall is about to open to visitors after its refurbishment; and
  • Two books are soon to be published – one on the local Ulster Home Guard and the other about Carrickfergus’ townscape through time.

My hometown may be small, but it’s packed with history!

Finally, I’m always open to receiving suggestions, advice and memories that help tell the story of my hometown during the war. If you have anything to share that you think I may be interested in, give me a shout. Every day is a school day!

Adrian

The “We’re Good To Go” industry standard mark is a self-assessment scheme that has been designed by VisitEngland in partnership with the national tourist organisations Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for all sectors of the tourism industry, as well as reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place and are following industry and Government COVID-19 guidance on cleanliness and social distancing.
Tour Dates Update

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Revised route, new content, restricted group size.

As the Northern Ireland Executive announces amendments to the COVID-19 containment measures, I am continually revising the Tour to ensure Guests’ safety..

Consequently, I will be taking Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, looking specifically at events here during the Second World War, on the following basis:

  • There will be no “just turn up” Tours – all places on the Tour must be pre-booked. Drop me an email (leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com), give me a call/text (+44 7916780474), or send me a Facebook Message (https://www.facebook.com/leadthewaytour), and I’ll do my very best to organise a day and time that suits you.
  • Requested Tours can be delivered on most days: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Maximum of 8 persons on each Tour.
  • Those who come on the Tour MUST adhere to appropriate Social Distancing.

PUBLIC SAFETY REMAINS PARAMOUNT

ROUTE

The Tour route will be slightly different than before, to ensure it is delivered within the official guidance in regard to outdoor spaces.

It is about 1.2 miles long, and will take just over 90 minutes to complete.

The route is on level ground with safe crossing points.

If you want to include more exercise into your Tour, it can be extended up to 2 miles to include walking out of the Town Centre to some of the locations that I talk about. These longer Tours can be arranged on request.

CONTENT

The Tour covers the following topics:

  • Background on the Churchill Tank displayed on the Marine Highway, the North Irish Horse Regiment that used it during the Second World War, and why Carrickfergus was so important in the development of the Tank
  • Women in Work: Factories in Carrickfergus that made a hugely significant contribution to the War effort
  • Domestic life in the town: The Home Front
  • The special uses of the town’s Civic Buildings
  • How the Town Centre’s infrastructure changed throughout the War, particularly when the American Troops arrived
  • The Sunnylands Army Camp – from British to American to Belgian occupation
  • The formation, and onward journey, of the US Rangers
  • A new Belgian Army
  • Carrickfergus Military Prison and Detention Barracks
  • The Military Petrol Distributing Centre

I use approximately 150 photographs to help tell the story of events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. These photos have been enlarged to A4 size, so are visible from 2 metres to maintain social distancing.

I also have a few exhibits which I bring along. However, due to their fragility, if the weather conditions are not favourable I may not be able to display these –  apologies in advance if this is the case on your Tour. 

If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch

Adrian

Tour content update, Tour Dates Update

New Junior Tour

Over the last few weeks, three Primary School pupils have been on my Tour.

The Second World War is on the Primary school curriculum, and these children have been enthused enough to ask their parents to book a place on the Tour. The feedback has been very positive, but I appreciate that the Standard Tour content may be too detailed and varied to take in at that age.

With that in mind, I am organising Junior Tours over the summer months more specifically aimed at content that more appropriate for pupils in Years 4-7.

NOTE: Children on the Tour must be accompanied by an Adult. If from the same household, more than one child can be accompanied by a single adult

The Tour will look at events that happened in, or impacted on, the town of Carrickfergus:

  • Factories that made items used during the war
  • The Belfast Blitz
  • Air Raid precautions, including the issuing of gas masks
  • The American Army in Carrickfergus
  • The buildings adapted or built to support the military in Carrickfergus
  • Rationing and the Home Front

This Tour Route is around a mile in length and takes just over an hour to complete. This version is specifically for Primary School pupils plus a responsible adult to accompany them.

Advice for young children (Year 3 or younger) – if I am honest, the Junior Tour may not be suitable, and the Standard one definitely isn’t. There is quite a lot of information shared on both Tours, and I am not sure that a very young child would find this sufficiently interesting. That said, I will leave it up to the main carer of such a young child to decide if they want to bring them on a Tour. In such circumstances, children of this age will be made more than welcome and I will not charge for their attendance. If in doubt, get in touch and I can offer more specific advice.

Standard and Junior Tours will be advertised on Eventbrite, but I am also very open to requests to put on a Tour on other dates and times.

Tour content update

Follow in Royal footsteps

While researching the content of the Tour, I came across a very interesting piece in the autobiography of one of the original United States Army Rangers. Although I have been unable to verify its accuracy, I have no reason to disbelieve it.


With that caveat, it seems that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (before she became the Queen Mother) visited the Sunnylands Army Camp in Carrickfergus on the morning of the 26th June 1942. There they met some of those men who made up the 1st Battalion U.S. Rangers.


The autobiography mentions how impressed the American soldiers were with the Royal couple – more down to earth than they had anticipated. The Queen, in particular, charmed the Rangers with her knowledgeable comments about their rifles and other military equipment.


The Royals had spent a few days in Northern Ireland specifically visiting American military sites, with this visit to Carrickfergus coming on their last day here. Although many photographs we’re taken throughout their tour, I have been unable to trace any from their short stopover in Carrickfergus. This may be due to the very high level of secrecy surrounding the new elite fighting force that had been created in Sunnylands Camp just a week earlier.


Follow in the footsteps of Royalty, as my Tour includes a visit to where Sunnylands Camp was situated and I tell the story of the activation and onward journey of the only American military unit created away from U.S. soil.

Scheduled Tours are advertised on the Eventbrite website.

Tours on other days or times can be arranged on request.

The image used was created and released by the Imperial War Museum. CAPTION: “HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth leaving HMS BICESTER at the end of their visit to the naval base at Larne, Northern Ireland, 26 June 1942.”