Last Saturday, Tom led a tour that was not in the Cotswolds! He took a group to the Worcestershire town of Bromsgrove, where they supported two fantastic independent businesses and an impressive community sports club. Here’s a post, by Tom – a story about friendship, generosity, sport and paying it forward.
Spend enough time with me and I’ll extol the virtues of team sport.
I love sport. It’s given me a lot over the years. It’s been part of my life from a very young age, when I’d watch my father play cricket for our local club in Temple Grafton, a village near Stratford-upon-Avon, on the edge of the Cotswolds.
In fact, had I not done this, Go Cotswolds may not even exist today. Following in in my dad’s footsteps, I took up the sport myself and spent many hours of my formative years playing cricket in the beautiful Cotswolds.
From cricket in the Cotswolds…
The Cotswolds is a truly unique area that captivated me from a young age – initially on the greens of the village cricket clubs, then on the miles of stunning, peaceful walking trails, and finally into the quirky shops, cafes and pubs of the historic towns and villages.
I founded Go Cotswolds 9 years ago because I wanted to show people what it was that had captivated me about the area. I’ve been a tour guide here ever since that first tour on July 11, 2014.
We’re the original and most established minibus tour company in the region, consistently providing small group day tours since our inception. Affordable, friendly tours with passionate local guides – that’s what we do. And we’re forever grateful to the thousands of visitors from home and abroad who put their faith in us to show them this incredible part of the world every year.
…to Covid in the Cotswolds
However, in March 2020 the world came to a standstill because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Customers were unable to travel. Bookings were cancelled. Tickets were refunded. Our tours stopped. Our business was effectively put on hold for nearly two years.
For businesses in our industry, it was a time filled with uncertainty and great anxiety. Would we do what we loved doing ever again? Nobody really knew.
But, for us at Go Cotswolds, a very kindly group of people had faith that we would get back on our feet: my friends from Temple Grafton Cricket Club.
With a little help from our friends
One evening, in the early days of lockdown, Lisa and I sat watching TV and our phones suddenly started pinging with email notifications.
At this point, the only emails we were getting were from customers who wanted refunds for tours. So, we were stunned as – one by one, over the course of a few minutes – 15 ‘new booking’ emails came in. What the…?
Unknown to us, my cricket team-mates had all hatched a plan between themselves to buy tickets for a Go Cotswolds tour to show their support for our small family business. In truth, it was an act of generosity that moved us to tears.
That show of support not only helped us financially, but also gave us a real boost in confidence. We were desperate to bounce back, when we could. With this show of support – the knowledge that our friends really believed in us – we now had the added incentive of organising a day out for our good friends from the cricket club.
Better late than never!
Go Cotswolds was closed for a total of 11 months, all the while government restrictions prevented people from getting together. Then, during the less strict periods of lockdown, we had to limit our minibus capacity to just 10 people, to keep everyone as safe as possible. When all restrictions were eventually lifted, it then proved difficult to get 16 people together on a date that worked for everyone!
But we finally managed it, last Saturday, nearly three years after the original bookings!
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We decided to arrange an alternative day out to our usual Cotswolds tour – after all, most of our friends are local and have been to the Cotswolds many times!
So instead, we planned a trip to the Worcestershire town of Bromsgrove, where we could pay forward the original sentiment behind the booking our friends had made and support some other small, local businesses, and a community sports club.
Travelling in our spacious 16-passenger seat minibus, we visited Bayley’s of Bromsgrove – a fantastic family run cafe that serves excellent homemade cake, coffee and craft beer. We feasted on freshly made bagels and potato tots from The Steamhouse a brilliant independent street food kitchen who currently have a residency next door.
Then, we headed off to watch non-league football team Bromsgrove Sporting take on Ilkeston Town – and Go Cotswolds did a cheeky little bit of promotion by sponsoring the match ball!
Non-league football for the win
If you’re a football fan, going to watch non-league football in England is a must. It may be a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the English Premier League, but what you will find – especially at Bromsgrove – is an affordable, friendly and welcoming place with some talented young footballers (and the odd golden oldie!) playing entertaining football.
Sadly for Bromsgrove Sporting, they lost the match 3-2. However, for me, and the group, the result was immaterial. It was a successful day out filled with fun, friendship and camaraderie – the foundations of which, for this group, were built at our local cricket club.
I love leading tours – it’s an immensely fulfilling job. On Saturday, it was a real privilege to lead a group of good friends, and thank them for the incredible generosity they showed to our small business during the pandemic. There’s a lot to be said for doing something different and spending a day out with your friends. I highly recommend it. Do stuff more!
Want to take a private tour with Go Cotswolds?
As well as our regular small group tours of the Cotswolds, we also provide custom private tours. We specialise in the Cotswolds, of course, but if you would like to visit other places then we can certainly use our local knowledge and do our best to help!