Worrying Times – 15th March 2020

Hello Everyone

Unless you have been asleep for the past few weeks you will of course know about the Corona Virus and the effect and panic it has brought with it around the world.

At present the annual OPC meet up set for mid May in Swindon is still going ahead but of course we will take all the advice available and a decision can be made nearer the time.  Sadly some people are already cancelling and other thinking of cancelling which I fully understand but sad to hear too as it would be great to meet new faces and catch up with old acquaintances.

The whole situation has got me thinking about my own mortality (am not being morbid honest – just being practical).  I have so much information held for the website on my PC and not sure who would be able to access it all if anything should happen to me.  John Pope has access to much of the items already published.  However I need to plan for the future – I do have a back up external hard drive that holds everything so that is a plus and this is backed up on a weekly basis – but who is going to carry on the day to day admin of the site.  Who shall I will all the books and the hard drive to.  Ideally we need someone young, enthusiastic and wanting to learn more about their Wiltshire history so anyone wishing to volunteer please get in touch.  I can train you up remotely and make sure you have access to everything you need.  I am bringing my laptop etc to Swindon so I could effectively transfer everything to someone there too.   You would not need to do anything until you know for sure that I am no longer around.

In the meantime since the last BLOG not a lot as happened apart from a very dark gloomy day when  I hit the lowest of the low and felt like no-one would miss me.  FB solved that one and I am most grateful for everyone who took the time to lift me from that dark cloud.  The cloud is still grey but I know there are people out there now who will support me if I need it.

I have been working harder on the website than I had for awhile and things are slowly getting done again.  I keep asking for volunteers to assist with the backlog and admin but all good intentions etc.  We all live busy lives.

Recently Ancestry have added items from the Bristol Archives many Wiltshire items are included where boundary changes occurred moving parishes from Wiltshire into Gloucestershire.  Since there is no OPC project for Gloucestershire we will hold claim to the parishes.  In fact we have a Nationwide page too where we can add items from other areas although I wouldn’t want to see this get out of hand.

So that’s the best I can do for this edition of the BLOG – a bit dark and dismal but fingers crossed by the next BLOG all the panic will be over and we can start living normal lives.  In the meantime

Be Cautious, Be Safe But Don’t Panic

 

 

 

 

Just A Quick Update – 1st February 2020

Am just about getting over Christmas and bang an office move at work is thrust upon me.   The move was much needed from a very old unwelcoming building and have now settled very quickly into a new temporary office across the town, although the office is in a disused wing and the corridors smell like old church buildings.  Have to do it all again in June when my works office moves again to new purpose built accommodation.    This time though I will not be required to dismantle furniture and scrub walls to remove blue tac.   I felt terrible for a few days and just wanted my bed so very little OPC work got sorted.

Less of my excuses am now back in the fold and getting some decent work and catch ups done.  Thanks to John Pope the Stratton St. Margaret Parish has had lots of new items added along with updated items submitted by Nigel Chalk.

If anyone wishes to volunteer there are zillions of bits and pieces you could assist with.  You don’t need to adopt a parish I can always find something that needs transcribing, tidying up or revamping by transferring the information to templates.

There are more involved items that need doing too if anyone wants to have a go alongside the administration team.

Don’t forget also that the OPC team, transcribers and anyone else who want to join us are meeting in May in Swindon for the third annual meet up.  If anyone is interested then contact Ruth Woods via the Facebook Page.

 

Christmas 2019 – Where Has the Time Gone

Well here we are in December 2019 – I wrote the last Blog about 3 months ago and seems like yesterday.

Personally have been very busy at work so the website has had to take a bit of a back seat but I am spending more time at the weekends working on catch up.  Am pleased to announce that I am now working on Submissions from early 2017 – much of which has been done already but due to the Big Windows Crash am going back through to make sure they haven’t been lost.  So far so good not many need sorting.

As usual at this time of year I compile a quiz.  This years its based on the public houses past and present of the county.  If you wish to take part then you can find the questions either on the Facebook Page under files or visit the website where you will find the questions on the home page.  There will be a small prize for the winning entry.  This will be decided either by the person who submits the most correct answers or if more than one person with the same number of correct answers then we will do a random draw.   Entries should be submitted to Teresa Lewis either via the Facebook page or by contacting her via the website or you can send direct to her e-mail address if you have it.  Of course you could ask for it too.

This Christmas is going to be far more sedate with us at home.  Last year my partner was suffering from severe anxiety and depression and was off work for 4 months.  Thank goodness he is well enough to work now but in a lower capacity than he was previously.  This means that I have to keep working now not because I want to but because I need to.   Sadly this means not so much time for the OPC project but I still try and get through stuff when I can.

As many of you know I am a big sports fan and my passion is Stoke City.  We won’t say anymore about that at present.   My other passion is music and over the last two years I have been lucky to to see live concerts of some of my favourite bands and artists from the 70s and 80s.  UB40, Shalamar, Tears for Fears, Alison Moyet, The Osmonds, David Essex, Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate, China Crisis, Status Quo and Alexander O’Neal.  Why am I mentioning this – well Alexander O’Neal did a Christmas Album called My Gift To You and at this time of year I play it often and as a gift from me to you I would like to share it.  Two tracks are very special to me and I want to share them with you all.  The first is Our First Christmas this was the first song my partner every played to me when we first met 12 years ago.  The second is a timeless classic with a twist – The Christmas Song it brings back memories of my mum and dad playing the Nat King Cole Version – but my dad being a bit of a soul man would have loved this version.  If you want to listen to the whole album then I would highly recommend it.

Back to the website.  I finish work for the holiday on Christmas Eve lunchtime and don’t return to the office until the 7th January.  So apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the 28th I should have lost of free time to get stuck in and do some serious uploading, prepping and transcribing.

In the next blog in a few months time I will update the vacancy list and the meet the team sections of the blog.  If anyone fancies taking on a parish or helping out with admin or transcribing then please let me know again via the Facebook Page or via the contact me section on the website.  All help gratefully received.

So from the OPC Team and Admin – we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Hoping you all achieve your wishes and goals in the New Year.

 

Wow – Nearly Two Years Have Passed – 8th September 2019

I have decided to revive the Blog

Lots of stuff personal and Website wise has happened so loads to catch up on.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or are members of the Facebook OPC page will be aware of much of what has gone on.

Most significantly was the sad passing of Carol Ouellet in February of this year and Christine Brooks in March – they were both prolific transcribers and supporters of the website and they are very much missed.   On a personal level I miss not chatting to Christine everyday via FB Messenger – we would work on transcriptions and stuff and chat away from morning to night.

Last year a group of OPC and FB page members met up for the first time in Wiltshire.  A group of about 25 people met up in Avebury in May and the event was just so good.  Faces to names etc., but there was just not enough time to get to speak to everyone for which I am still apologising.  John Pope and myself travelled to the South of the County too photographing and recording items for the website.  It was such a successful meeting that Amanda Wood-Woolley arranged another meet for May of this year and this time we met up in Salisbury, it was a smaller group but it was good to see familiar faces and to meet up with new as well.  Ruth Wood is now planning next years meet up in Swindon this time details can be found on the Facebook Page.  It now looks like this could be come a yearly event and already we have a few new faces wishing to join the festivities.   I am not now able to commit to being there but am certain it will be as good as the last two events.

Website wise we are still fundraising for the website – the funds raised so far will allow Richard Cresswell to host, maintain and rebuild the website and funds are still filtering through so a big thank you to everyone who has donated.  In fact at present I am running a birthday fundraiser on Facebook.

The website is still flourishing but has had a few set backs with volunteers coming and going and being a victim of a very big Windows Update that wiped out all of my files and folders and the operating system itself.  Thank goodness I had backed up the work on an external hardrive two months previous plus the cloud storage helped fill in the gaps – I think I managed to retrieve 99% of what I had imagined lost.   I now back up every week – not leaving it to chance again.  Lesson learned and learned the hard way.

Don’t forget if anyone would like to contribute to this Blog please get in touch

And I shall leave you with this thought – Christmas films are beginning to be shown on TV.    Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Wednesday 27th December 2017 – Last of 2017

As you all know since October until now the team have been working really hard to keep the OPC Project online – with all the amazing support and financial donations we have managed to achieve this with donations of £665 so far.  The fund will continue to run so we have a good back up pot for emergencies and the continuation of the hosting and development.   If you wish to donate you can do so by going to our funding page or by donating direct via paypal

Richard Cresswell our new webmaster is still working on a new site and the old site will then move from its present Joomla base to a WordPress Base so some features may be lost but we may also gain others – am sure it will still be a useful resource which is its main aim, even though we do like to make it fun.

Talking of fun we have a competition running at present in two parts  a picture quiz and a crossword Grid and Clues all correct entries will be added to a draw to win a copy of Wiltshire Churches – An Illustrated History by Derek Parker and Wiltshire Historian John Chandler

All entries should be sent by midnight (GMT) on the 5th January 2018 to Teresa Lewis

This is just a short blog to let you all know what has been happening.  In the next blog I plan to update the information data of current OPC’s and Resources so if anyone hasn’t sent me a photograph of themselves and doesn’t having a face put to their name then let me have a good clear image (Johnny Depp and Kylie Minogue images are not acceptable sorry)

All that is left for me to say is to wish you all a very Happy New Year hoping 2018 will be a good year for everyone.

 

Monday 16th October – Sad, Bad, Middling, Good and Emotional News.

Hi all

It is with mixed emotions I am writing this blog edition.

The Sad News is that Susan and Michael Pearson have reluctantly come to the decision to give up their financial and technical support for the website.  They have been amazing for near on ten years now.  When Susan set up the Wiltshire OPC Project from scratch following in the footsteps of Cornwall, she started out with not too much technical and IT knowledge and was self taught.  Her vision, well I am not sure what that was, but you can see by visiting the website what that vision became.  I know she would say that the OPC team are the ones that have made it a success but without her finances and technical support the site would have drowned long ago.  For that we are to be ever thankful.

The reason for Susan’s decision to move on is due to a number of things but mainly because of her ill health.  Susan suffers from Fibromyalgia which at times is a truly disabling condition, this has forced her to give up her work as a local government officer.  (I can remember when she was so excited about getting that job after so many applications and rejection letters).   Other than Genealogy her passion is crafting and creates some really beautiful handmade cards for all occasions this is now her outlet for income and is building an online business which we wish her every success in.

It is due to her new enterprise or Penterprise that she has made the decision that she is no longer able to support us and to be fair Susan has just one Wiltshire Connection in her family research so she has given ten years to a project that really has had no benefit to her other than to allow her to build a skills portfolio.  I know for a fact that both Susan and Michael have not made the decision lightly as this was her baby and she has nursed it through good and bad times.

Recently our website has been attacked by spambots (why because they can).  This has meant far too much traffic to our site which crashes the server which also houses Susan’s business website, something that she cannot afford to keep happening when she is trying to build up a client base.

The Bad News – for the next few weeks or maybe even a few months our website may be taken offline for periods of time (to protect Susan’s Business Site) whilst we start the transition of moving the site to a new server and host.  Susan is obviously not pulling the plug on the site immediately she has given me a good period of notice to come up with a plan.  Susan also assures me she will always be around for advice and to point me in the right direction.

The Middling News – having looked into the costs involved of hosting and maintaining a growing website like ours we (will say more about who we are further on) have decided to put every effort into keeping the site up and running for the foreseeable future.  To achieve this we have taken the reluctant route of setting up a donations programme this was launched yesterday under the Just Giving Banner.   Thanks to Susan and Michael’s very generous patronage we have avoided this road for so very long.   Most OPC Projects nationwide have taken this option for a long long time – and we see its our only way forward at this time.   Should anyone wish to donate you may do so by visiting the donations page at Just Giving.

The Good News – Very quickly I got my thinking cap on and John Pope and I decided that we would try and raise the costs of running the website between us.  We put out feelers to a couple of web hosts (being the weekend we had no response).  I then talked things through with my partner who suggested that we ask our members to help out.  I realised that Just Giving was one way forward and went headlong into starting the appeal.  I launched the page on social media and on the website itself with a glimmer of hope it might work.

The first reaction to it was from Richard Cresswell who very kindly stepped forward to say he could move the site and maintain it for us.  Major headache sorted since I have never had to deal with web hosting companies before.   Richard is now working out the plan to move and possibly rebuild the site on similar lines to how it is now (people don’t normally like too much change).

The second reaction was my e-mail inbox received a notification advising that a donation had been received.  Then followed a steady flow of similar mail.  I e-mailed John Pope and told him and he offered to become the fund accountant and he went off and set up a page on the website where the account can be viewed by OPC’s and if anyone of our users wish to see them then they can request a copy.

Therefore you can see that the we mentioned above consists of Richard, now the webmaster apparent), John Pope (fund account manager) and myself who will remain as administrator and now owner of the URL (Website Domain Name) which Susan has transferred to me.  I would like to say that I do not own the site.  The site is owned by everyone who contributes whether it is financially or with material for publication.  Everyone has an equal standing – we are one big team.

The Emotional News – when Susan e-mailed me on Saturday to break the news of her decision I was a little taken aback.  On reflection I knew the day would come as Susan had made me aware that she was building a new business and that the OPC site was in her words dropping down the ladder of priority, maintenance wise quick fixes were okay and could be easily sorted but major issues such as these stupid spambot attacks are time consuming to resolve especially if you are suffering from blinding headaches and are in pain.

My next emotion was blind panic because I could not see a way forward – I felt I was going to lose my job (that is how I see my role).  I went silent then my partner knew something was up and so I told him – so what he said Susan has taught you enough over the years to carry on – just get online and do some research.  I asked John Pope about his own website and I sent an e-mail to his host for a quote having explained what I saw as our needs.  That problem was resolved as soon as Richard made his very kind offer of taking on what essentially was Susan’s role as webmaster.

After the relief of knowing that we would probably not be needing to close the site my head switched into organisation gear.  We arranged with Susan to transfer the URL Ownership and Richard made contact with Susan to liaise on the plan of transferal of the website from one host to another.   I set up the donation page and it is here where the real emotion set in.

As I said I got a steady flow of notifications from Just Giving that donations had been made.  I opened the page and was gobsmacked at the amount donated in just an hour or so we had raised around £90 and reading some of the comments left I had to wipe away the tears.

When the total closed for the night at £210 I realised how much our voluntary efforts meant to many people around the world.  I cried myself to sleep.  Awaking this morning I am still astounded at the support and generosity we have received.  Grahame (my partner) said thanks everyone as it has kept me quiet for hours!!!!!!!

For now the donations will mean we can continue – its not going to be easy as things will need to change and compromises made.   Its a new challenge and one no doubt the team will face head on and conquer.

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated it means so much to us a team thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of everyone who will and has benefited from our efforts.

 

Once more thank you Susan and Michael for everything you have done over the past 8-10 years.  You truly are remarkable people and personally you will be close friends for many more years.

thanks you

 

 

Thursday 21st September – Catch Up

Hello fellow Moonrakers and Wiltshire enthusiasts.

It has been a few months since my last ramblings so I thought it was time for a catch up.

Firstly as most already know and have responded it’s that time of year where I offer you the “get out of jail free” card either to remain with your parishes or give them up (no pressure since we all have different life changes to deal with).  A few, sadly, for one reason or another have given their parishes up for re-adoption, most have decided to stay and put up with my ramblings for another year and a handful I am still waiting to hear from.  I will contact those people again at the end of the month just in case they didn’t get the first e-mail.  If you have got back to me then there is no need to do so again you are well and truly ensconced.  If you haven’t then please let me know your decision as soon as possible.  Once I have a clear picture of the overall team response then I will update the relevant pages.

I have been pretty busy since the last blog preparing items sent in for loading to the web site – we now have over 21000 items available to assist the family and local historian.  I still have a long way to go to add everything including photographs.

We are still planning to move the website to a new platform, however Susan tells me this isn’t going to be so easy since we are a victim of our own success and the website is too big to move as we would have wished.    We will get there at some point.

On a personal level I must tell you of an incident that made me laugh although maybe I should have been a tad insulted.  A few weeks ago on returning from our second Salou jaunt I asked my son to drop a few books back to the library for me since they were a few days late.  I gave my son some money to pay my inevitable fine.  Ten minutes later he came back and put the money back on my table with a joyful grin.  I asked why the library hadn’t issued the fine.  Still grinning like a Cheshire cat he took great delight in saying that the staff had told him. “There is no fine” – “Your mother is now a Senior Citizen”   Very efficient in updating their records and a bit early but there you are.

Image result for old lady silhouette with zimmer frame

So tomorrow, at age 60, I become an official Scottish OAP.   It does have its bright side though – I get a free bus pass and can travel all over Scotland and down to Carlisle and Berwick-on-Tweed.  I can also use it on some rail services too.  I can also get concession entry to cinema and theatres and also can have the smaller portions in cafes and restaurants.  I must admit though I don’t feel 60 I feel so much more fitter than I did at 50 and my mind is kept busy by our wonderful team at the OPC .

A bit of good news – my home town has had a new leisure centre built  which incorporates a family and local history centre.  Its a five minute walk at most from my home and it has fiche readers – so I am going to book myself in and transcribe some of the fiche we have had donated or purchased.

For now I will let you go and do something more productive.   Will be back soon though