“Well I’ve always been interested in tourism but I had to retire before I got involved. I was in sales for a number of years but I started my working life on the railways, as a fireman making black smoke.

When I was due to retire I came across the kiosk in Cathedral Square of what was then known as the Personal Guided Walking Service. And I said oh! I’d like to do that.

Then when Riccarton House was opening up for tours the walking guides were invited for morning tea by the manager, who said they would like some guides and I thought that’s what I want to do. So I kept pestering the manager and eventually he says well you better come out on Monday and see what we do. So I did two tours with him on Monday. And I came back on Tuesday and he said well I’ve got a meeting now you can go through with Annette – the other guide. That afternoon he said well I’ve got another meeting you better take the tour this afternoon. And that was my introduction to Riccarton House. That was 17 years ago.

I did lots of reading on the family and the history, and the more I read the more I fell in love with their story. I used to love it when Austin Deans come for lunch; I would come a bit early and I used to have great delight in being in his company. We got on very well together and shared lots of stories; he was a thorough gentleman.

I was told when I was a teenager that you got a mind and a body. If you don’t use them you’ll lose them. So I’m still learning things. The problem is I know too much. It’s an hour-long tour but I can never get through it under an hour and a half.

The day I stop enjoying what I do, I’ll give it up. I feel like a very lucky fella.”

– John

#riccartonhouse #heritage

Charity registration number: CC57701