Hundreds of ‘visitors’ from around the world join tour guide’s online events for charity
- Credit: Simon Rothstein
A tour guide has raised thousands of pounds for charity by conducting London history walks from his study in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
After retiring from his job as a partner in a City law firm, Ian Fagelson spent two years studying to qualify as a City of London and Westminster tour guide.
He then spent the same amount of time again building his business to the point where he made it into TripAdvisor’s top ten London tour guides from a list of 1,400.
Every penny Ian earns from his tours goes to his chosen charities including Norwood – which helps people with learning disabilities – and World Jewish Relief, which cares for elderly and impoverished Jewish people in the former Soviet Union and people of all races and religions impacted by disasters worldwide.
The 68-year-old has personal connections to both charities as Norwood supports his son Jonathan, who has a learning disability, while his daughter Judith works for World Jewish Relief.
He told us: “Demand was booming and then suddenly everything stopped. I had spent years building my reputation and client base, one tour and one review at a time, but was ready to give it all up. Then I had an idea – what if I could do a walking tour without any walking. Maybe people will pay to do a Zoom tour from their locked-down homes?”
Ian’s first virtual tour clocked up 133 participants, but his second ‘outing’ is where things really started to take off with an incredible 430 people tuning in from the USA, Canada, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands, South Africa, Israel and the UK and raising more than £11,000 for his charities.
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Dr Isabelle Seddon PhD participated from her home in Hampstead and said: “As a fellow guide and social historian, I was so impressed by Ian’s ability to bring to life 1,000 years of London’s history via Zoom. His knowledge was imparted in a light hearted and accessible way and a vast amount was learnt within the hour. Highly recommended at a time when we are unable to physically walk the streets and a very worthwhile alternative.”
New Yorker Eugene Gershteyn had initially planned multiple tours for an upcoming trip to England with family and friends, then the pandemic arrived.
Eugene said: “We were all bitterly disappointed to have to cancel our vacation and especially the detailed itinerary of walks Ian and I had put together. Ian let us know about the virtual tour and my wife and I thought we would give it a try. I didn’t know what to expect but it absolutely blew me away. I learned so much about London’s history and it was almost as good as being there in person. We loved it so much, we’ve convinced the rest of our original vacation group to sign up for the next one.”
After six months of darkness, Ian’s Tripadvisor page is once more illuminated by the light of glowing reviews.
Ian has multiple outings for planned for his virtual tours, next up being Shakespeare’s London on 22 November and 6 December and 1,000 years of London’s Jewish history on 28 November and Boxing Day evening. You can see the complete schedule and make bookings at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/ian-fagelson-31339883203