Giving talks at the V&A during a pandemic



October 8, 2021

In February this year I started my volunteer guide training. I really enjoyed my training with my mentor, V&A Guide Elizabeth Hamilton, and my assessment was fun too. I actually gave my first talk to my carer, on the 14 bus on the way back from visiting the Thomas Becket exhibition.

I have Aspergers and always have dreamt of being a museum guide. It is destiny for me to be part of the team delivering daily talks in the Raphael gallery, as well as a privilege. 

When I started as a tour trainee with the amazing Elizabeth, training felt 10 times harder as it was during the height of COVID and in lockdown. 

I had online meetings with my mentor and my amazing carer team to learn about the Miraculous Draft of Fishes. I was a librarian at Fulham palace and felt it was a lovely full round circle to end up as a specialist Raphael guide at the museum. 

It was a deep privilege arriving behind the scenes to the Raphael Gallery. My Aspergers did not diminish my ambition to be a guide,  and I am proud to be the first V&A guide with Aspergers. It’s like being an artist, we need break the mould. I have always wanted to be a guide at the Victoria and Albert Museum and I shall now focus on being the best . 

Here I am giving my first talk after Lockdown to my sister and flatmates, to practice during my training. 

A tour guide presenting in the Raphael Court at the V&A

I feel a huge sense of achievement, hope to make waves in the museum and set a trend. I think that guiding is like acting, you have ups and downs and with this new knowledge I hope to inspire people to give things a try. 

I am in the process of training to deliver full tours. The Greeks use the word enthused. Here I am enthused to give the talk of the Raphael Cartoons.

A tour guide practising a tour at the V&A

Everything is possible. 

A special mention to Doune Meynell  who was my carer in lockdown. She is an artist from the Royal School of Drawings and is one of my Guardian angels.

I am also grateful for having an excellent Volunteer Manager, Caterina Bisquert, one in a million; as well as my mentor Elizabeth, and carers Helen Cameron and John Gethin.  

I believe that people are like cakes: with the right ingredients (or people) everyone can become amazing. I hope that the cake of my talks has the best icings!

4 comments so far, view or add yours

Comments

This was exciting to read! Wishing Alexander every success in his on-going tour guide training and hoping it won’t be too long before he enthuses -as the Greeks might say – visitors to the V&A with his knowledge of the Raphael Cartoons.

So proud of Alexander’s amazing achievements!

Wonderful, big congrats on your journey as a guide Alexander. This is a very inspirational post!

A wonderfully inspiring read from Alexander. I wish him all the best on his future within the Museum!

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