A new cohort of Blue Badge Cumbria Tourist Guides-the first for over ten years- are looking forward to sharing their knowledge of Cumbria and the Lake District to visitors from all over the region, nation and world.

Eight new guides were presented with their blue badges at the newly re-opened Kendal Unitarian Chapel garden from mayor of Kendal,Councillor Doug Rathbone.

And an additional posthumous Cumbria Blue Badge was presented to the family of one of the course’s trainees, Fiona Steggles, who died this year, shortly before the exams.

The Westmorland Gazette: REMEMBERING: Fiona Steggle's family with mayor of Kendal, Doug RathboneREMEMBERING: Fiona Steggle's family with mayor of Kendal, Doug Rathbone

A meconopsis from Dalemain House was planted in the Kendal Unitarian Chapel Garden of Remembrance in her memory.

Another group of twelve new guides is set to qualify later in the year.

The newly qualified guides undertook a rigorous 12 month training programme involving online and face-to-face training.

They visited towns, villages, farms, churches, museums and attractions across the whole of Cumbria and even got instruction on how to guide in a coach.

The course totalled over 230 hours of learning, in addition to long hours of self-study and preparation.

The Westmorland Gazette: QUALIFIED: Blue badge recipients with course director Tess PikeQUALIFIED: Blue badge recipients with course director Tess Pike

Finally, the trainees had to pass seven examinations and submit a 3,000 word tour-planning project.

Tess Pike, course director, said: “Everyone has worked incredibly hard to gain this internationally respected qualification: a symbol of excellence in tourist guiding. Cumbria, its attractions and heritage are going to be well served.”

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism said: “I joined the Blue Badge trainees on one of their coach exams and was delighted that the Cumbria training didn’t just cover the central Lake District, but also reflected our ‘Attract and Disperse’ campaign, which is focussed on helping visitors to discover lesser-known gems of Cumbria, as well as the traditional ‘honeypots’.”

Jeff Appleyard, one of the new guides said: “Although I have lived in Cumbria for over 25 years and thought I knew it quite well, the course has taught me so much more than I knew, so with this qualification, I am really looking forward to sharing my love and new found knowledge of Cumbria with visitors.”