Whilst driving earlier today, I was half-listening to a radio show where the presenters were wittering on about resolutions, including eating healthily, doing more exercise, and more. All very laudable and I am certainly on that wagon myself. However, it made me mull over (not in the mulled wine sense) some resolutions and plans for the forthcoming year at FWL.
At this time of year, five years ago, I would have been returning to my school classroom, after the Christmas/New Year holiday. A job I loved with students who, in general, wanted to learn and do well. I left that job in September of the same year to follow my genie-dream: to be a family historian. Many of my colleagues expressed their surprise. Surprise that I was not leaving the school to move to another educational establishment. After all, I was supposed to be a career teacher. Other colleagues probably talked about me behind my back wondering how I would ever earn a living by researching people’s histories.
Roll on three years to 2016 – and just two years ago – I had a team. A team with a dream. A dream that we would have our own larger office space. Our research arenas had expanded enormously in three years and now included adoptions, heir tracing … people finding for whatever reason. This was the first year I attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City (in a very cold January/February) with Sylvia Valentine @HistoryLady2013. I remember having two birthdays – one in Chicago airport and one on arrival in Salt Lake City – with cards from the whole team (c/o Sylvia planning), along with flowers and a bottle of bubbly in our hotel room on arrival.
We had a fantastic time in Utah, meeting so many genies who were ‘online’ friends already. I was an ambassador which meant I could use the Media Hub, record videos with my chosen interviewees and attend exclusive events, as well as giving away a free RootsTech pass to the winner of my competition.
Later in 2016, Family Finders was aired on BBC1 and the ‘phone rang off the hook for weeks! We were totally unprepared and, in my naivety, I had no idea that people would contact us, as the production team had continually told me ‘no publicity’, ‘we’ll be blurring out the header on your letter’, etc. Well, without saying too much, they didn’t blur it all out, clearly!
And so, in October 2016, we moved in to 5 St Mary’s Courtyard, with a small team compared to where we are now! 2017 saw another trip to RootsTech for Sylvia and I, this time with me as a speaker and an ambassador. Our travels were not smooth at all, and I vividly remember having to literally leave Sylvia with all the luggage in the hotel reception and ‘run’ (translate, trot) to the Media Dinner (arriving late). We were invited to many a genie-gathering and even, Dear Myrt’s after-party.
Quite how I was put in charge of sorting out the people travelling on the minibus, as one of the few people without a US mobile, I don’t know! Much hilarity and general networking was had along with some lovely food and drinks. Oh, how AC Ivory and I laughed at Daniel Horowitz’s comment during the Bloggers Photo – I still laugh thinking about it!
2017 was a year of massive growth for FWL. The team expanded beyond recognition with new talent added to the squad. Family Finders aired again (without warning!), with a similar impact on the rate of new enquiries.
And now we are here at the start of 2018, planning our trip to Utah – the team, that is. We are sponsoring the RootsTech 2018 Conference! Oh my woolly word, how did that come about?! Creating our stand and marketing materials, along with sorting out the logistics of getting everything there and how…. new challenges! We love challenges!
More about that soon but first, we have a new and exciting announcement, which is imminent…. Keep an eye out for the next blog. You won’t want to miss it!