Your chance to win!

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Dec 102017
 

Yes, you read it right! It is only two weeks until Christmas and so (although I am a little late according to the schedule – sorry!), I have decided that now is the right time to give my followers the opportunity to WIN an entirely complimentary RootsTech 2018 four-day pass (US$279 value). In fact, not one but TWO passes as I have teamed up once again with Jennie Fairs (a fellow 2018 Ambassador from Down Under) to offer a pair of tickets.

In 2016, I attended RootsTech for the very first time and was also lucky enough to be selected to be a Conference Ambassador. This year, I was further honoured with the opportunity to deliver two classes, lecturing on surnames and also on how to research in England and Wales. In 2018, Team Family Wise are travelling to Utah en masse and we are sponsoring the conference! Someone should warn Salt Lake City of our arrival in advance, eh!

Anyway, back to the competition…. The pass includes access to over 300 classes, the keynote/general sessions, the Innovation Showcase, Expo hall and evening events! Take a look at what is on offer in 2018 by clicking here. RootsTech is an annual event not to be missed and here is an opportunity to attend, with a friend/partner, for free.

All you have to do is email info@family-wise.co.uk before 5pm GMT on Sunday 24 December 2017 with your name and the name of your fellow hopeful attendee, along with a brief (no more than 100 words) paragraph about why you want to attend and what you hope to achieve/learn from the conference.

The winning pair will be drawn on Christmas Eve and notified on Christmas Day. Good luck!

An apology, a promise and a surprise

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Dec 032017
 

Wow! Yes, it has been a while since you last saw us here, blogging about random eccentric finds, amazing offers, occurrences in the world of FWL and such like. It’s fair to say that we have, this year, been a victim of our own success. Our profile has grown exponentially during 2017, as has our team, and some things have just had to be parked whilst that growth has occurred. Of course, client work has remained on track although we have had to manage expectations carefully regarding completion of commissions, as there are only so many hours in each day/week.

So, firstly, an apology to all our avid readers for the radio silence over the last few months. When FWL was originally born, we blogged every day. How?!?! Then it slipped back and then slipped back a bit further…. Slipping no more. Team FWL are coming back. Stronger than ever…. as we have more writers to share the load! We hereby promise that you will hear from us at least once a week, henceforth.

We have a few biz-related surprises up our collective sleeves over the next few weeks so please do watch this space (now, it’s not an empty space!) as there will be a fair few offers and announcements coming up. Not so much Christmas-related but exciting announcements and chances to win ‘lovely things’!

Over the past few months, we have been stockpiling some weird and wonderful finds but for now, one little surprise from the 1871 census:

[Source: RG10/872/69/56 – Beckenham Village, Kent]

Do the ‘girl about 10’ and ‘boy about 9’ who were singing in Beckenham Village on the night of the census belong to you? Who do they belong to? Will we ever know? (probably not!)

Welcome back to the FWL blog. We look forward to serving you more regularly from here on in. Merry December to you all.

Once is a mistake, twice is a choice

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Aug 062017
 

No-one in life is perfect, no matter how hard they try. And there are lots of triers in life….

Everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes are small and go unnoticed. Others are larger and mean that a wider circle of people are either affected or realise the mistake which has been made. Whether the mistake occurred due to a conscious poor decision on someone’s part or by accidental misjudgement, the first time a mistake is made can be perhaps forgiven? However, when someone continues to make the same mistake, surely that is a choice and no longer a mistake….?

Those who know me well will know that I am an athletics fan. In fact, I am delighted to be attending the closing night of the IAAF World Athletics Championships next Sunday (13th August) which will also be the weekend of Ma & Pa FWL’s 45th wedding anniversary and Ma’s birthday (age not to be disclosed!). Last night, I watched the final of the men’s 100m and to say the result was not what I had hoped, would be an understatement. The Gold medal winner has twice been banned for taking drugs and yet, he is still allowed to run? How is that sensible? How does that help the young people watching the Championships look up to those medal winners and other competitors?

I am not saying it’s the Gold medal winner’s fault for winning. It’s certainly not. Maybe he is (as he says he is), “no bad boy” and when he waffles on about talking to kids and inspiring them to walk the right path…. Well maybe you do….. But how many chances does one person need?

The same is true in business. In our business, it is (sadly) rather competitive with some other companies using underhand and unethical tactics. With various ethical companies, we liaise positively and come to reasoned ways forward without the need (as others do) for raising their voices and rudely hanging up the telephone because we happen not to agree with their opinions.

In other walks of our business lives, we have come across some people who make mistakes over and over and over again and continue to be supported, despite appalling reviews and feedback from others.

How many chances? Once is a mistake, twice is a choice.

Never shy away from a challenge

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Jul 102017
 

Oh my, wow….! How has so much time passed by since the last FWL blog? Since we last communicated with all of you, so much has happened/changed, it’s hardly possible to make a list of less than a A4 page of just the highlights. Each and every day is different (part of the reason why we all love working at FWL) and we honestly never know what the day will throw at us.

The morning’s post rules our world….  We collect it from the Sorting Office before the day begins and that helps us to plan the day ahead. Until the ‘phone rings that is…. A friend of mine commented recently about how he has 150 emails or so per day. I replied, “Is that all?!” The amount of correspondence we receive each day at FWL (across the whole team) is staggering. Post, emails, telephone calls …. the enquiries are endless. Of course, that’s a good thing and the team are delighted to be presented with new challenges. Sometimes the challenge is to keep their cool on the telephone when people decide that the best way to engage with us is to shout and be aggressive. That’s not the best way, just so you know….

Over the last four years (nearly) since we’ve been blogging away, we’ve talked a lot about ethics and professionalism. That’s what we pride ourselves on and we will never lower our standards. We are honest when we say that family trees don’t grow overnight and estate claims aren’t resolved in a heartbeat. Often matters cannot be put on a timeline as they are not utterly dictated by us.

So, the highlights since we last wrote…. We have secured a lucrative new contract with a professional organisation. We have resolved an estate out of court thus saving the estate tens of thousands of pounds. We have broken down a family history research brick wall for a client which has stood solid for decades. Our MD has been booked for over a dozen more presentations and we are soon to be featured in a local publication about the Heritage Quarter where our offices are now based.

Life is good at FWL. Why not come and visit us, if you are local? Or call or email us if you want us to look into your research requirement….? We never shy away from a challenge. In fact, we love challenges!

Speaking/globetrotting around the world

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Jun 202017
 

It has been a little while since I last blogged and a fair few road and air miles have been travelled in between times. One of the perks of being MD@FWL (there are a few actually!) is that often I am asked to speak in front of large audiences about what we do and how we do it. People want to know how to start researching their family history and how they can break down the brick walls they hit along the way. I don’t give out all the ‘trade secrets’ (of course) but I give a whole heap of advice for free at events so people can further their own studies.

My road miles took me to three different 4N meetings in three days earlier this month – Birmingham, Cambridge and Chepstow. Not exactly the best scheduling as the three are not really that close together, but the outcomes were amazing! After presenting, several people had specific requests for the FWL magic wand and we are already making great progress towards cracking some long-standing missions for our new clients. Yes it is even possible to start tracing your birth father without knowing his identity….

For the last ten days, I have been five timezones away from our UK Head Office, in Canada. The weather has been much the same as in the UK with a heat wave as soon as I arrived. The Canadians are far better prepared for weather extremes than the UK so I think I have been in the better place with air conditioning units a-plenty!

The reason for my travels to Canada (aside from the fact I love the country and studied here back in the 1990s!) was to attend and speak at The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference in Ottawa. This year is the 150th anniversary of Canada (also known as the 150th anniversary of Confederation) and has been promoted by the Canadian government as Canada 150, marking the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Ottawa being the Canadian capital, this year’s conference had to be in Ottawa!

Over the past four years, I have attended and spoken at three of the OGS conferences and been involved in the planning (in very minor ways), recommending a few new initiatives from my experience of other societies/at other events. In 2015, a conference Twitter account was set up and this has continued ever since with this year, a Social Media Team (SMT) being appointed to blog, Facebook, tweet and generally make a lot of noise about the conference. Wow – what hard work that was! Whilst I haven’t blogged until now, I can honestly say I have never tweeted so much during one weekend! The work of the SMT raised the profile of the conference enormously both for those attending and those who were not able to do so. The livestreaming of a few of the keynote speakers was received well, adding almost another 10% to the attendees of one lecture alone.

During the conference, I ran a workshop on Family Reconstruction, lectured on From Rural Devon to PEI: A Migration Story (featuring various Sillifant families) and Community Histories, and gave ‘Fast Track’ presentations about The Society for One-Place Studies and The Surname Society. Networking is key at any conference and due to my Twitter presence, I was contacted by CBC Radio for an interview, but after initial discussions, I passed on the gig to Mags Gaulden of Grandma’s Genes [listen here].

At the end of the conference, I had a key role – announcing next year’s conference. Why? Because I am co-chairing it with Dianna Fulton! It will be at the University of Guelph from June 1 to June 3, 2018. There is still plenty of time to put in a speaking proposal if you are that way inclined. Take a look at the Call for Speakers. 2018 looks to be an exciting time for us at FWL…. definitely, watch this space!

Before I sign off, I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all the people I have met over the past few weeks on my travels and particularly to the Canadian genealogy community for their kindness and hospitality.

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