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.