Barry's Best Bits of Being a LightPool Ambassador!
Hello! My name is Barry and I’ve been a Blackpool LightPool Ambassador for this year’s summer season. Before my LightPool role, I have also been involved in the local museum project. Living in Blackpool most of my life has created a deep love of the town and its heritage.
Lots of towns and cities now have teams of ambassadors welcoming, interacting and informing the public to ensure a rewarding visitor experience so that they will want to return again and again. This has proved just as rewarding for my colleagues and me!
We’ve been working in pairs, making ourselves visible and approachable as mobile tourist information. Most of the enquiries revolved around the location of the nearest cashpoint and most convenient toilet, but it’s been interesting to receive and investigate certain questions.
Lots of people ask for tide timings, or why the donkeys are not out on a Friday. To answer the latter, Fridays are the traditional hand over days for departing and arriving visitors – the ideal time to give our four legged friends a well-earned day off!
My favourite question was being asked on the Comedy Carpet by one lady where the forthcoming Air Show was going to take place. Pointing to the sky, I informed her “That’s where”, with a grin.
The aforementioned Air Show was one of the many events at which we also took part, other including Armed Forces Day, Ride the Lights and the Switch on itself. Tasks include selling programs, making sure visitors were conducted safely across the tram tracks or, more simply, welcoming families with a friendly and chatty face.
Our presence at the LightPool Village experience not only helped ensure crowd safety and be on hand for any emergency, but kept the visiting public informed of what they could expect from the evening’s entertainment. This information included times of the firework displays, projection shows and what time the Illuminations would start shining each night.
We learned some top tips when it came to enhancing the visitor experience. First and foremost is that a friendly welcome can brighten someone’s day! We also became beacons of information on what to do and see! The Destination Guide and Events Guide can be picked up from all over the town, and are really useful whether you’re new to Blackpool or not – we’re always developing something new!
One thing about Blackpool in full season is there is always something to do or see, and it is a pleasure to help the public enjoy themselves by signposting them to all we have on offer.
The other satisfaction is being able to offer tips making savings and stretching family holiday budgets even further. This is where the Resort Pass comes in handy; its discounts ensure visiting families can fill time enjoyably at great value.
Being an Ambassador has also been an education for me, revealing a lot more to Blackpool than I had previously appreciated. We do have a variety of niche shops specialising in such areas as memorabilia, collectables and even old fashioned wool emporiums. The magic doesn’t stop once you leave the town centre; head to South Shore, Bispham and even Fleetwood Market to discover something new!
One shop that deserves mentioning is Brookes Collectibles on South Shore, with its fascinating collection of old toys and computer games. It was there I met Miss Inform who treated the Ambassadors to her walking tour of south shore’s history – or, rather, her version of events! This led to the discovery of Mrs. Johnson’s Wool Emporium on Bond Street, housed in a former bank with very ornate interior. The two Blackpool rock shops on Chapel Street and South Promenade are great, and you can see the rock being made.
Eating out? There is no shortage of traditional fish and chip outlets of course, but again there is a wide variety of eateries and restaurants representing cuisine from all over the world. All tastes are catered for! And where do hungry Ambassadors go to eat after work? The Yorkshire Fisheries is a particular favourite; you can’t beat traditional eats!
Blackpool has continuing appeal for residents and visitors, with something to offer everyone, young and old alike. From the razzle dazzle of the Golden Mile amusements, to scenic walks along Bispham cliffs, or relaxing days further inland at Stanley Park and Blackpool Zoo.
Being an Ambassador has gifted me a renewed appreciation for our wonderful town, and the opportunity to share this with our visitors has been an illuminating experience.
Barry’s portrait was taken by Zoë Dawes of Quirky Traveller. Follow her on Twitter!