AN AWARD-winning tour guide is keeping people entertained during the coronavirus lockdown by telling stories of grisly murders and fascinating history online.
Simon Entwistle, of Top Hat Tours, has been conducting popular tours of East Lancashire for more than 20 years.
One of many people whose livelihoods have been hit by the ongoing crisis, he found an enterprising way to continue plying his trade by hosting a series of virtual touring parties via Facebook.
Simon, who won the 2018 Lancashire Tourism Superstar Award thanks to his efforts promoting the county, said: “A friend suggested that instead of just doing nothing why don’t I try using Facebook. I’ve found that it’s like having your own studio in your own home.”
He added: “I’ve been telling stories on Facebook Live via my page and I’ve had a huge response, not just locally but from people from as far afield as Canada and Australia.”
Thanks to Simon’s many years of experience, which has also extended to providing voiceovers and sound effects for TV and radio programmes, he has found himself able to deliver online talks that are just as compelling and popular as the tours he conducts around Lancashire.
His previous coach tours include Pendle Witches, Ribble Valley Haunted Inns and ghost tours in Clitheroe, Whalley, Blackburn, Accrington and Colne.
Most of the virtual sessions revolve around local history, typically with a talk about heritage at 11am and a ghost story at 7pm.
He said: “As a tour guide, I’ve worked with Hyndburn, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle Councils and we do heroes and villains tours which can feature grisly Victorian murders but also heroic acts.
“I do find that a good ghost story captures people’s imagination.”
Simon’s virtual sessions have proved to be a big hit with viewers, with his only difficulty being that his Facebook page has proved too popular to be able to take any more friend requests.
Simon said: “Facebook will only allow you to have 5,000 friends but people have been joining all over the world.
“Just recently I’ve had a chap from Malta and a chap from Missouri. I love my job and I love promoting Lancashire. It's just been nice, really, to do it in a different way.”
Find the virtual tours online by searching for Simon Entwistle’s Facebook page or visiting tophattours.co.uk