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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 19th July – You Probably Won’t Want to Know This

Hi everyone

As you can see am back off my long awaited holiday.  It was wonderful but very hot which my poor feet did not appreciate (not helped by partner dragging me around everywhere clocking up most days 10k)

Top of my list of things to do was to visit Barcelona so we did a whistle-stop coach tour which took us to the Camp Nou (football stadium of Barcelona F.C. and feeder club to my beloved Stoke City) what an amazing stadium it is and not just for football, there is a whole complex for other sports which encourage everyone to take up some form of exercise.

We then were taken to the centre of Barcelona and Las Ramblas, the famous Market Street.  We decided after an incident a few days before to give this a miss and headed for a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Next we had a tour of Barcelona and saw many buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi including his beautiful former home then down to the port to see the statue of Christopher Columbus and to see the area developed for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

We were then taken to the one thing I wanted to see most and that was the Sagrada Familia (Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece) what an impressive work of art.  They hope to finish it by 2026 to mark 100 years of the great man’s tragic death.  Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside as you have to book in advance and you only get one hour to look around.  What I found so sad about it though is that Gaudi’s vision was to have his Basilica surrounded by parkland and the Barcelona Officials have agreed that acres of land surrounding the structure will be cleared to achieve Gaudi’s vision.  Looking around at some of the buildings that will be demolished made me feel like crying.  It made me wonder to how many other beautiful areas of the world have been destroyed to make way for someone’s dream whether it be right for the area or not.

Anyway Barcelona is definitely somewhere I would like to revisit and spent more time at our leisure.

I mentioned an incident that occurred.  We went on a visit to Tarragona taking public transport – cheap and incident free.  We followed the signs to the harbour and to the Roman Amphitheatre.  Heading towards the latter two women (selling carnations for the flamenco) approached and even with all the warning about being careful they managed to take 70 euros from my partners’ wallet (the wallet did not once leave my partners hand yet the money was taken).  Well that was it – anyone who knows me will have a good idea what happened next.  Partner told me they had taken his money so before they could scuttle off – I made a grab for the woman nearest me.  I dug my nice set of acrylic nails into her arm and refused to let go making sure they understood that if they did not return his money we would get the police.  Each time they said they had not taken it deeper went my nails until finally the elder lady handed over a roll of money.  Before I let go my partner made sure the notes were not fake I let go shouting to them that we were going to the police anyway.  (No need as a group of English tourist were coming up behind us and had photographed the two women and were on the phone to the police).  We had the last laugh though we know they could only have take 70 euros and we ended up with 95.  On reflection it was stupid and irresponsible reaction on my part as the women could well have had back up watching from a short distance away.  Just the Welsh dragon in me awoke and no way were they going to get away with it.

It hasn’t put us off at all as partner decided to book a week back in Salou in August so its time to pack again. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know this is not Wiltshire or family history related but I thought I would share our experiences with you all since you had to put up with my excitement leading up to said holiday.

 

 

Sunday 18th June – Holidays and High Days.

Hi all

Am so excited – this time next week  will be all packed ready to head to Newcastle on the Monday to stay with my niece and catch up on some family history while I am there and hopefully get across to Southwick to lay some flowers where my birth fathers’ ashes are scattered.  Then on the 28th we will fly out to Spain for 11 well earned nights.  As many of you will know its been a tough couple of years for me health wise and thankfully I seem to be past that phase.

Naturally I shan’t be around to “admin” the website from the 24th June until 11th July.  I promise as soon as I get back I will get my head down and begin a focused catch up on the backlog.  Am sure the other admins will keep an eye an eye on things while I am sunning myself.

Susan has informed me that she and Michael have found some solutions to the website build.  Basically we are out growing the present platform we use and will be shortly moving the whole thing over to another platform.   This will happen in the main without disruption to the current website however there maybe a short downtime at some point so the move can be finalised this could possibly be up to two days all being well.   So fingers crossed and good luck to both Susan and Michael with this project.

On Friday night my partner and  I were fortunate to have been given tickets to see Fisher Stevens an Elvis Presley tribute act.  I was really surprised at how good he was and when he sang one song memories of my parents came flooding back and I ended up crying.  I did get a cuddle from the substitute King of Rock n Roll at that point but it got me thinking (a dangerous thing) as to how many of us when recording our family histories actually record trivial facts about ourselves such as what colour is our favourite, or where we had our best holiday, who is your favourite actor, etc.  When I get back I am going to compile a questionnaire to include some of these and add it to the downloadable section of the website templates.  Perhaps you could all think of three things to add to the questionnaire and e-mail me or tell me on Facebook etc.   I will also add the document to the files section of our Facebook page.

I would also at this point like to welcome any new OPC’s to the team.  I will update the vacancy file and who’s who when I get back from my holiday (did I mention I am going to Spain for 11 nights and not just to laze in the sun, I will be doing some cultural things too).  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will do another blog page when I get back to let you know all the things you missed when I was away.  hahahahaha.

I know I try to keep the blogs as light hearted as I can but I must make reference to what is happening in our country and other places around the world at present.  Sadly it is a dangerous world we live in and maybe we don’t realise how much this is impacting on our every day lives.  We all know that death is inevitable and that we all have lost loved ones at some point.  To lose anyone close from what we perceive as natural causes is hard to endure but to lose someone in tragic and avoidable circumstances is beyond imagination.

Our thoughts and prayers must be for those families and friends of anyone who has lost their lives from this onslaught of terrorist attacks around the world that we have faced this past year.  In the UK we have seen three attacks in almost as many months where loss of life has been indiscriminate and aimed at the general public enjoying their leisure time or carrying out their daily employment.  We have also witnessed the unbelievable tragic tower block fire where many lives have been lost in the most horrific way we can think of.   I know we are not alone in experiencing such atrocities and heart-rendering events.  It does bring it home as to what other people around the world have experienced in recent history.

REST IN PEACE ALL

funeral-lily

 

 

 

 

Monday 1st May 2017 – Wow It’s Been Quite A While

Hello everyone and a big warm welcome to any new followers.

I can’t believe that we are into May already – Next Month Grahame and I are off to Spain for 11 nights with a two night stopover in Newcastle before we fly out – am so excited.

Its also been nearly 3 months since the last blog – but I have been really busy on the site preparing and rebuilding etc. etc.

The big news is that the site has moved server and although the timing went a little off target all was well when the site was able to be accessed again.

Susan, Michael and I are now working together on ideas to rebuild the website (well Susan and Michael are doing the planning – I just give the thumbs up and put obstacles in their way or even worse new options to consider.  No need to worry though as this will be done offline so the disruption will be minimal and it is only at the think tank stage.   We will keep you informed as to progress but in the meantime we are still adding to the existing site on almost a daily basis.  For what is new or updated check out the Stats Section of the Website Home Page.  During April their were 297 new or updated items of which the majority were new submission.

The Poll Book for 1832 for the North of the County is complete thanks to the efforts of John Pope and the South is in the process of being done by Maureen Withey – I have several parishes ready to upload but they are in that never ending queue – we still have over 1000 items ready for preparing to upload from submitters – plus there must be nigh on 3000 plus items sitting in folders awaiting someone to look at them to see what we can achieve.  Christine Brooks is working away at a few sets of items such as VAD Volunteers and a few other things she has found but as you can imagine doing the same thing over and over becomes a bit tedious so we are always working on a few different items.  I am at present adding a few of the Wiltshire men who served in the Metropolitan Police have completed all with the surnames commencing A.   Christine Brooks very kindly reminded me that there about another 10,000 to do.

I am awaiting a delivery of a Poll Book I have purchased for 1705 we had found a few odd pages floating about on auction sites but the book itself soared out of reach of our budget, however it would seem other copies are available and someone (book dealer) has printed copies for sale so we managed to get it a bargain price.

I must thank Claire Wickham Young for doing a few look ups and taking copies of items for me when she visited the Record Office at Chippenham recently.   Sadly she didn’t have as much time as she had hoped but has promised to do more when she next visits.  If anyone else is planning a visit and would be willing to get copies of a few things please let me know either via e-mail or on Facebook page – to steal a well known saying – Every Little Counts.

Also I must personally thank Jean Strong who has given up her role as OPC for Cricklade so that the curator of the local museum in the parish could take up the role – so welcome to Pam Debenham.   It was Jean’s idea to get the curator involved and hopefully Jean will continue to contribute to the website in some other capacity.

Once again thank you everyone who is contributing to the website, only the other day I was in contact with a Bradford on Avon Town Council employee who was amazed at what as volunteers we have achieved and that is all thanks to everyone who gives up there time to do their bit.

So that’s it for now – and Carry on Regardless

 

 

 

 

First of 2017 – Very Busy

Hi all

I know its February but as its the first Blog of the New Year I hope everything is going as you all planned.

For those of you who are linked to Facebook you will know that a few days after Christmas I cam down with that dreadful lurgy, cough and cold but not detected on lungs or chest.  Its just about gone now but I had a few sleepless nights,  This however wasn’t a bad thing as I did some catching up on items for the site.  Again if you are on Facebook you will see what has been uploaded over the last few weeks.   You can also see what’s new and amended by visiting the home page of the website and going to the statistics section.

Sadly we have received news that Jean Barnwell is to step down from her parishes she will be missed as a team member.  Of course we wish Jean well in whatever she is planning in the future and we hope she still visits us often.  One of her parishes has been adopted by Brian Fisk and we look forward to his contribution in the future.

So welcome Brian.

As some of you will know the downloadable template section was getting really difficult to manage and equally difficult to find the template needed amongst the long list available.  I am slowly going through updating the templates where required and linking the template to the actual page next to the description of what the template should or could be used for.  Hopefully it won’t take long to complete but you never can tell in this job.

As many of you will know last year was not a good year with the loss of David Palmer (late 2015) and Jan Oliver in the summer of 2016.  Jan’s website is still online but there are no plans to add any new material.  I am still working through the items that she donated for other parishes like Ludgershall which is another big project.

I am happy to report though that the backlog is now down to Mid November and more items are being cleared daily of course I am still working on other things too such as voters lists, apprentices, doctors and the probate index to name a few.

If anyone can lend a hand as usual you know where to get hold of me.

Am looking forward to the summer since its not a Blackpool holiday this year for me (well maybe later in the year to celebrate my 60th birthday) but our main holiday is 11 nights in Salou – I am so excited about vising Barcelona and Tarragona.  Other half thinks its going to be a boozy clubbing holiday but I hate to burst his bubble

Anyway its great to be back in the swing of things now but please don’t pile stuff on me just yet let me catch up a little more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st December 2016 – Guess What?

Yep You got it – It’s the best month of the year – It’s CHRISTMAS TIME

You know I just love it – take a look at Facebook and you will see for yourself.   I am pleased to say that the decorations have been up since the 22nd of November – (a tribute to my dad) – the lights will now go on every night until 5th January and all will be packed away on the 6th.  I will then start planning for the next year (I know I am mad but I am still a kid at heart).

laughing-santa

For anyone new to this blog once more I am going to publish the letter that I wrote from a family history researchers point of view to that jolly man dressed in red (sorry to those who have read it before)  A Genealogists Letter to Santa

At this time of year  I must praise every one from our Website Users to Webmasters, Administrators, OPCs, Transcriber, Contributors and anyone who has supported our endeavours to provide free information for everyone to use.   I am so proud to be part of the project and its truly amazing the amount of information we have on our pages.  I still have probably a thousand items still to upload and link but that just goes to show how busy everyone has been – I just wish I had the time and health to do more and get everything online quicker I know I keep saying it but things are getting a little better.

From me personally there are a few people who I have to thank for assisting me and being there for me when I went through a really frustrating few months with my health.  – I am not going to name you individually as you know who you are.

So for everyone here is an Advent Calendar for you – I will edit the blog daily to add a new day or you will open all the windows before Christmas and then Santa won’t come to you on Christmas Morning

1st December                  2nd December                  3rd December

4th December                5th December                    6th December

7th December                8th December                     9th December

10th December               11th December                  12th December

13th December               14th December                 15th December

16th December               17th December                 18th December

19th December                 20th December               21st December

22nd December               23rd December                24th December

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL