Meet Your Team

Your driver/guide/companion is a very important part of your successful vacation. Our team boasts a wide range of backgrounds and abilities including authors, college professors, adventurers, photographers, ex-service officers and more, all eager to share their knowledge and some local treasures with you. Your guides are philosophers, diplomats, historians and entertainers but, above all else, they are dedicated to ensuring your comfort, safety and enjoyment.

All ground staff are hand-picked with your comfort and expectations in mind. SGT has worked with members of the same team of local suppliers & driver/guide/companions for over fifteen years.

Please meet some members of your team:

SGT is owned and operated by Kate Carrigan

Philadelphia PA born and raised, Kate has been traveling since she was 17 years old thanks to a student exchange program which took her to Germany, Spain and France for the summer. She was irreversibly bitten by the travel bug. Following much wandering, working and studying, Kate settled down in London where she took the position of Tour Operations Manager for a local ground operator. This position allowed her to learn every aspect of the tourism industry. It was during her years here that she developed deep roots and love of the local communities. Family (and an expired visa) brought Kate back home to East Coast USA in 2003 and she started Special Group Tours to make it possible to continue sharing the delights of the UK & Europe with visitors.

After over twenty years and adventures on six continents, Kate is dedicated to sharing her experience and passion for quality travel with her clients. It is a privilege for SGT to be a part of your treasured holiday memories.

In addition to travel, Kate loves theatre, music, literature and is beginning to be a keen gardener. Keeping in touch with suppliers, attractions and constantly learning new things is important to Kate, so she makes it a point to spend time visiting and re-visiting places of tour interest to ensure the quality you deserve is maintained. Keep your eyes opened, you never know where she may pop up! If your Rock and Roll London tour guide or Steward at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has an American accent…

Mary Baker

Mary has lived in Pembrokeshire for over 30 years, hold a BA Honours degree in Archaelolgy and knows many of the gems that are hidden in the countyside. She is passionate about the past and about Wales, where there are so many exciting places, some secret and some better known. Mary can take you to ancient burial chambers, stone circles, castles, abbeys, holy wells and lead you to little known churches with ancient pre Christian stones in their walls, she can take you on the best walks and places that are the best opportunity for a wildlife experience. You are in good hands, as Mary is well versed in the best for eating, shopping and rest breaks. Mary used to run her own guest house so knows how to look after guests and what visitors expect. “Some people have said I spoil my traveling companions but I say everyone needs spoiling occasionally and especially on vacation!” Mary is a great choice as she can present a well rounded yet very comfortable tour that will suit your needs and interests.

Simon Baldon

Simon is one of our Wales specialists, based near Llandudno, North Wales, and one of our ‘botanist’ garden guides. A lovely, multi-talented chap indeed!

Polly Chapman

Polly has been a successful driver/guide since 1998 and organized tours for students for many years prior. She is one of our “botanists” and specialises in tours around the UK and Ireland, especially directing garden and literary tours. Her favorite regions include Yorkshire, Borders, West Country & Wessex, her ‘home patch’ of Sussex, Wales and the West Coast of Ireland but she loves exploring new places too. Polly comes from a professional teaching background in the fields of geography, history and English and is married to a historical geographer who is also an expert ornithologist – we have been told it rubs off! Polly is proud to be a part of treasured memories, especially when she is able to facilitate finding a bit of a guest’s ancestral heritage along a touring route.

Bruce Cherry

Bruce has had an interest in military history since graduating from Manchester University in 1974 with an Honours degree in history and hitchhiking to Sarejevo to stand in the footsteps of Gavrilo Princip. His academic qualifications have since included a masters in marketing and a (soon to be certified!) PhD in Great War history. He founded and ran a specialist battlefield tour operation, introducing many new innovative itineraries. He has guided extensively throughout the European battlefields with groups ranging from Canadian Army Regiments to family and school groups.

Jay Cook

Jay has been guiding for almost fifteen years and also functions as a PCV mini-coach driving instructor. You are in safe hands when this gent is behind the wheel! He has traveled extensively throughout the World. While he can successfully operate itineraries across the UK and Western Europe, Jay is most happy when sharing his beloved Ireland with guests. It is here where his heart is and he brings a wealth of Irish knowledge and heritage to visitors. Jay’s professional background includes the ownership of a bookshop, management consultancy, university lecturing and he was once a director of the London marathon – a talented chap! Jay’s interests include history, current affairs and literature and is a keen cyclist and motorcyclist in his spare time.

Jeff Cormack

One of our battlefield specialists, Jeff spends much of his spare time nurturing his love of military history, the events surrounding both world wars in particular. He is one of our top battlefield tour guides. Following a career in insurance, Jeff became a very in demand driver and driver/guide in and around London and the UK, his special brand of ‘East End’ humor delighting guests for many years. He can still be coaxed into specialty day trips in and around the Capital but prefers to spend the majority of his time sharing the poignant reminders of the wars in Belgium, France and Holland with visitors.

Nora De Bievre

Representing Belgium, Nora has a passion for helping visitors discover the joys of the low countries. Gardens and battlefield itineraries are her specialty, in particular the Salient, the Somme and the areas of ‘Operation Market Garden.’ Multitalented, Nora has led a varied career within tourism, most notably as a tour operations manager and driver/guide trainer. She has lived all over the world including Hawaii, Saudi Arabia, across the Continental US, Poland and now calling London home. Nora has a keen interest in golf, gardening, quilting and photography in addition to WWI military history so is pleased to lead special theme tours as well as battlefield itineraries. A native Flemish speaker, she is also fluent in French, German, Dutch and has a working knowledge of several other languages. Oh, of course she speaks English perfectly too!

Loes Oude Kotte

Loes is a National Guide of her homeland of The Netherlands, has worked in Tourism since 1995 and is available to guide you through the best of Holland and Belgium. Loes realised there was a need for travelers to see beyond the ‘normal’ attractions of what Holland has to offer and moved forward with the Small Group Touring Concept. Through her company FAIR EXCURSIONS, she is able to share the more discerning traveler affordable, semi-private and tailored tours in a luxurious minibus. Loes is fluent in her native Dutch, English, German and French. She says ”I really enjoy showing you the hidden treasures of my country.”

Vivien Roddy

Vivien is another of our more experienced guides, having enjoyed over ten years as a driver/guide and even more years than she’ll mention as a Tour Manager. Vivien has an Irish-Anglo heritage, boasting an Irish mother and an English father. She married a Welsh climber and has previously lived in Scotland, so can bring a huge knowledge of the UK and Ireland to guests. Vivien has also lived in various places in Europe including the Costa Brava in Spain, Knokke-le-Zoute in Belgium, Geneva and Paris so has a great facility with several European languages. She has a passion for seeing new places whether working or on her own, holding a running contest with her friends as to who has visited more countries! London is now “home” for this Globetrotter. You are in very safe hands with Vivien as she holds her “Advanced Drivers” certificate, which she passed with flying colours.

Michael Smith

Not a retired actor, teacher, or locomotive driver making a second career, but a career tour guide having worked as a guide for 90% of his working life, and Michael has loved every minute… well almost! He has a degree in botany, with gardens and nature as his strongest subjects, so can certainly prove a useful companion for passionate gardeners. He has lived the past 18 years in France and has a huge interest in the history surrounding events during WW1 and WW2. He speaks French and has a working knowledge of German and Hebrew. Having spent a working lifetime touring the British Isles and Continental Europe and with a love of history, general touring and sightseeing are well within his competencies. Michael is a certified driver for all categories of buses and trucks and as a pilot for light aircraft. ‘Everyone I have ever met on tours has a story to tell, and one of my greatest pleasures is learning from those I travel with.’

Andy Steel

Andy Steel is ‘just’ over 50 years old and lives in the Home Counties with his wife, three children and a mad cocker spaniel called ‘Alfie.’ For thirty three years, Andy was a detective in the British police force serving in the UK and abroad so can relate many tales of murder, mayhem and derring do. Andy is a fine choice for Continental Europe tours, especially for battlefields due to his interest in military history. He does love sharing some of his favorite places in his ‘home turf’ of England too. Andy enjoys renovating old houses and has just completed a two year project building a three storey extension onto his home. In his spare time he enjoys reading, walking, cycling, climbing and gardening.

Mike Wilson

Mike has been leading tours for over fifteen years. He is keen to share his knowledge of the local areas and insights on British culture and heritage. Mike believes in a well rounded touring experience and will facilitate arrangements during the tour including special requests as much as he can. He is a former literature professor, doing his doctorate in London literary studies so keen for all subjects literary and history. Mike has led general sightseeing itineraries and special themes including literary, Roman history, quilts and antiques plus many other unique interests all over the UK, Ireland and some parts of Western Europe. Perpetually young at heart, Mike is a favorite with school groups and family groups.

David Wood

David began his career as an officer in the Royal Air Force, where he was in Military Intelligence. There followed a complete change in career when he became the Head of Modern Languages at one of Britain’s premier public schools, Milfield. Over fifteen years of teaching, David taught the offspring of many famous persons including the grandson of Boris Yeltsin. David’s interests include drama (he has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival and in several Shakespearian productions near his hometown of Glastonbury,) Egyptology, canals and the major love of his life besides his lovely wife is Association Football (soccer.) David has been guiding for over fifteen years throughout the UK and France, with guests always commenting on his congenial nature and brilliant sense of humour.

In Memoriam, Jenny Paris

In Memoriam, Les Woolams