A NORTH Berwick-based tourist guide and former journalist has written his first book.

Alasdair Northrop spent the past 18 months researching and writing Guiding Lights: A History of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association 1959-2019.

It tells the story of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year.

Alasdair qualified as a blue badge tourist guide in 2014 and quit his job as a journalist to go full-time in 2016.

He later joined the board of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA) and became chair of its marketing committee.

When he learned that STGA would be celebrating its diamond anniversary last year, he suggested writing a book about its history.

He said: “I started researching its history in autumn 2018, going through old committee papers and newsletters and interviewing some of the older guides.

“I then did a talk about its history at our 60th anniversary AGM in March last year but I had still not finished the book.

“Once the tourist season was under way I could not do any more work on it until November last year.

“The coronavirus crisis resulted in the cancellation of all my work this year and I have used some of the time to finish off this book.

“It has been a fascinating project and I discovered there was a lot to write about.”

He added: “One of the purposes of the STGA was to create ‘professional’ guides who not only learned about Mary Queen of Scots but who also knew how to make sure a large group of tourists didn’t get run down when crossing a busy road!

“Not surprisingly, if you are writing a book about tourist guides there are some really interesting tales to tell.

“Among them is the story about how a guide took Prince Edward and his friends on an incognito tour of Edinburgh Castle, where the royal family member queued with everyone else to see the Crown jewels.”

Today, STGA has more than 500 active members, a number of whom live in East Lothian

Alasdair said: “As I am a member of the board I am not allowed to make any money from the book so all the proceeds are going to the association, which is very useful at this particular time.

“I hope the book will be of interest to anyone involved in the history of Scottish tourism; and there are some very amusing stories in it for the general reader.”

Alasdair said he was looking forward to the reopening of Scottish tourism next month.

He added: “I am an optimist by nature, and you can be sure we will see tourist guides return.

“New skills and new ways of working will be required and I am confident members of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association will meet that challenge.”

The book is available as an ebook on Amazon, and Alasdair hopes to see it in print one day.