Aug 272016

PresentTo whom it may concern:

Firstly, an apology…. I am going to use a word which would normally not be uttered on this blog…. well, not at this time of year.

Christmas. There you go. I did warn you. No, I have not lost my marbles. Yes, I know that Christmas is just under four months away and most of you will be utterly fed up if you see cards in the shops this early in the year. However, did you know that a family history takes more than a week to research (let alone the write up time!)?!

So, we thought we would make you an early Christmas offer. A family history binder package (value £500) for free. Yes, seriously! This would include research time, documentation, narrative report and family tree to your specification (within the budget, of course).

We can carry out research anywhere around the world and would be pleased to hear from you if you wish to enter the ‘prize draw’. Either email, comment below or via Facebook posts…. the competition closes on Saturday 24 September 2016 at 6pm BST.

What are you waiting for? Spread the word!

Aug 252016

Aside from a monumental amount of paperwork this week, it’s been good. In fact, better than good. For over a year, we’ve been working with a family on an intestate matter. A pretty sizeable one and one in which, sadly, most of the family did not know the deceased person. This is often the case but that’s a story for another day.

In Autumn (Fall) 2015, the family asked if we could document the family history in more detail than just the family tree which we would naturally produce as part of the intestacy we were dealing with. Of course, we were more than happy to oblige. Furthermore, we produced a family history of the other side of the family (Irish) which unearthed some fascinating information not previously known to our clients. As our client lost his mother at a very young age, he knew little about her side of the family and so, prior to their planned trip to Ireland in July 2016, the family asked if we could possibly locate living relatives. The time frame was a little too short to perform a miracle BUT we did manage to locate a family tree on Ancestry which appeared to have associated individuals listed on it.

How many times have you written to someone who has put their tree on Ancestry? Of those times, how many responses have you received? We were lucky, I believe. Miss S replied and not only that, was delighted that her Ancestry subscription paid off! We introduced Miss S and Miss R (daughter of our client) who were both of the ’email generation’ and then, this week, we received this:

“I wanted to let you know what great progress has been made with my Father’s side of the family given that you were so instrumental in helping to connect us … we are going to meet up! Meanwhile, Miss S’s grandmother and her sister have spoken to my Father … I couldn’t sleep with excitement last night! Thanks a million, Kirsty.

Outcomes like that from cases we work on are ‘to die for‘. It doesn’t always work that way. Thankfully, we have had a fair few of late so we must be ‘on a roll’! Long may it last!

Aug 212016

PenguinGoldFew people around the globe (in the First World at least) could possibly have missed the fact that Brazil have been hosting the 2016 Olympics over the past two (and a bit) weeks. Personally, I have always been a keen follower of Athletics and, over the years, my Olympic interests have expanded to Rowing, Cycling, Swimming, Boxing and more. Ma and Pa FWL vividly remember when, as a young child, I would set my alarm and creep downstairs in the early hours of the morning to watch Daley Thompson, Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, Linford Christie and others perform on the Olympic stage.

Fast forward to 2016 and Great Britain have just registered their most successful ever away games. They surpassed the medals tally of London 2012 and are the first ever nation in history to improve four years after hosting the games. What has been the secret? Hard work, dedication and an increase in National Lottery funding to enable our athletes to train full time and achieve their full potential. Long term investment….

Four time zones away across the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Athletes needed to acclimatise and the early signs were mixed with Geraint Thomas crashing in the Men’s Road Race but Adam Peaty smashing the world record in the heats of the 100m breaststroke in the pool and going on to break it again when winning Gold in the final.

In the water, we seem to have shone in Rio. Several medals in rowing, sailing, windsurfing, kayak and canoe…. Joe Clarke, Liam Heath and more names hit the headlines. Many British people won’t have heard these names before but now, the world knows who they are. Medals have been churned out on an industrial scale and we have overtaken China. At the time of writing, we have won 67 medals in 16 different sports [so, I clearly cannot mention them all, even the Gold medallists would make this blog three times too long!]

We (the British public) ‘went’ to Rio with no great expectation of our sportsmen and women. However, they went with “professional steeliness” said one BBC Commentator. They made history. Double double for Mo Farah, first team Gold with the unforgettable Maddie Hinch in the Hockey goal, the awesome foursome on the indoor cycling track…. and so much more. It’s tough when medals = funding but it certainly appears to be working.

Go well and be rewarded.

[A motto we live by at FWL.]

Aug 192016

Years ago, when computer monitors were packed into cubed boxes for transportation rather than a box the size of a lever arch file, or forming part of the portable computers now known as ‘laptops’, market research for Business Studies GCSE involved going out into the community and trying to stop people walking past to ask them questions. Now, we are rarely stopped to answer questions of this nature in the street but we are inundated with surveys in printed form and electronically (either to our inboxes or on the internet).

More often than not, ‘delete’ is an overused button on computer keyboards. You order something online and you receive a never-ending trail of further emails encouraging you to purchase more from the same supplier. In residential addresses, the correspondence which continues to appear in the mail way after the previous owner/tenant has departed is always the ‘junk’ mail. Without naming any particular companies, I am relatively sure that the lady who lived in my property before I moved in, only ordered seeds once or twice from a catalogue. If she ordered them more regularly, she would surely (in five years) have managed to update her address. Market research …. If someone hasn’t ordered from you in five years…. STOP SENDING THE CATALOGUE.

Market research these days is proving very interesting for us at FWL. In the last three months, our workload has increased beyond recognition. So, we are even more interested to know how people have found us. Plain and simple answer: TV and Internet. Back in the 1990s, the answer would be very different, not only because we weren’t here! But then, magazines and other printed material would have been the main publicity method for most companies. Oh how the times have changed….

We don’t advertise in magazines. We have, on occasion, but it hasn’t proved to be very successful. Internet and TV/Radio is clearly the way forward (as well as networking in person). Bring it on! FWL is ready for more….

Aug 152016

Usually, our days are driven by the Bonavacantia Division and the new list which they publish daily. Some days, they publish the daily list with no new cases at the head of the spreadsheet. However, every weekday, a new file is there to be downloaded. Until last Wednesday. No list on 10 August. Nor on 11 August and not even on 12 August. The Government website cited “All Bona Vacantia’s IT systems will be unavailable … We can’t receive or send emails, but telephones are working.” You cannot be serious!? A Government department with no IT systems for three working days?!

Apparently, everything is back to normal today and we have received emails from case officers but, still no new BV list. I am convinced that it is now 15 August but the page still says that the list was last published 9 August. Grrr…. One small positive: we have some grace to catch up on administrative tasks. Did I say positive?

Over the years of running FWL, there have been several occasions when waves of panic have washed over us regarding IT matters. In 2014, in preparation for a trip to Canada, the ‘only-just-over-a-year-old-laptop’ decided to overheat and crash. Constantly. Keeping online for two weeks was certainly a challenge and the machine was ditched on the return to England. Thankfully, all data was retained by our wonderful IT Guru. The new Dell laptop in place and a fabulous daily backup system set up, all was nailed down securely. Well, until we realised that the hard drive was fried and the backup hadn’t worked for months. Throughout all the issues though, we have had amazing support and, although blood pressures have risen, our support system has never let us down.

Maybe we should recommend Everything IT to the Bonavacantia Division as clearly, their support systems are not as robust as ours….. Just let us know if you want their number, BVD …. in fact, just call Bath 434343 and ask for Mark!

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