The York Association of the National Trust enjoyed its fourth tour for its 900-plus members in 2011 last month, booked through Brightwater Holidays of Cupar in Scotland.
Brian Knowlman, who took over the role of Tours Organiser in 1996 and has arranged over a hundred holidays for the York Association since then, comments. “The three-day break had a royal theme – appropriate in the year when Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married. The highlights were special behind-the-scenes private visits to Clarence House and Buckingham Palace, where the group were shown round by members of the royal staff.”
Based at the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel in London’s Buckingham Gate, the trip also featured a morning coach tour of London, led by Ian Godfrey, one of Brightwater’s many freelance tour leaders and a London Blue Badge guide.
Brian says, “After our private visit to Clarence House on day one, our second day included a visit to the Tower of London, with lunch, after which the group had some hours free for individual sightseeing before going to Buckingham Palace. Our visit here terminated with a glass of champagne on the terrace, with the group then transported off the Palace grounds in a series of royal buggies, passing through the famous gates which were thronged with sightseers.”
The final day allowed more free time when members could do their own sightseeing or meet up with friends, but about half the group opted for a tour of Westminster Abbey, where Ian is also a voluntary guide. “The 23 people on the tour – slightly less than the Association’s normal average of 30 – thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Royal London,” states Brian.” Originally I undertook all the work arranging trips myself, but some five years ago the detailed organising for our tours was handed over to Brightwater Holidays, the specialist group operator with whom we enjoy outstandingly good relations”.