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.