‘Is being a Rockstar like winning the Piston Cup Granny?’ asks the non-resident 3½ year old. Those who are unfamiliar with the Piston Cup have either not spent five seconds in Edward’s company, or the modern world of Disney has passed you by. I tell Edward that it is probably just as exciting, although I don’t see myself as Lightning McQueen.
I am taking a day off from finishing the Travels with a 3½ year old because I would like to pay tribute to all my wonderful fellow Genealogical Rockstar medalists. Congratulations to everyone who was awarded or nominated, you are all stars and I am proud to call many of you my friends. To say that I was incredulous, dumbfounded, astonished, all those things, when I heard that I had been awarded the UK gold medal for a second time, especially in such illustrious company, would be an understatement. It was several hours before I stopped expecting a message to say it had all been a mistake, in a similar vein to the Oscars.
There are of course more important things in life and work but inevitably you think, ‘Wow’ or even ‘Double wow’. Of course I am thrilled, honoured, grateful to have won. I am, after all, if I am honest, just the teensiest bit competitive. I am however seriously rubbish at self-promotion. I am indebted to those who voted for me and spread the word. Thank you. To think that people feel that I have made a significant contribution to the genealogical world gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and makes me very humble. Thanks to John Reid who undertakes the thankless task of organising the annual vote. See my post of 16 October for my comments on the process.
What I find more encouraging than the award itself are the private messages that people have sent, explaining why I attracted one of their votes. It has led me to reflect on my life as a family historian (still a more accurate term for what I do than ‘genealogist’ I feel).
It is 54 years since I drew up my first family tree.
I am now in my 5th decade of serious research.
43 years ago my school 6th form ‘liberal studies’ (you wouldn’t call it that now) led me to conduct my first local history project.
I have, so far, spent over 40 enjoyable years learning about history, heritage and related subjects, including, because I am officially bonkers, deciding that a PhD would be a good idea.
I have completed 35 years researching on behalf of others, often voluntarily but sometimes in exchange for money, yet I still can’t stop myself getting carried away and putting in far more hours than the client has actually paid for. I get every bit as involved in other people’s families as I do my own.
I have clocked up 35 years of inspiring my children (and now grandchildren) to take an interest in the past. This has extended to encouraging other young people to value their heritage.
I have spent 31 years serving on family and local history society committees at a village, regional and national level.
… and 31 years of teaching others about family, local and social historical topics. Tonight sees the first ‘chat’ with the latest cohort on my Pharos Writing and Telling your Family History course, so my role as an educator goes on.
Countless years of writing articles, books and random blog posts.
I’ve been on TV and radio several times.
It is 10 years this week since I was first Mistress Agnes.
Having administered a DNA project for 10 years, this year I finally took my own first DNA test, firmly entering the exciting world of genetic genealogy.
What will the future bring? Having only a few years left to retirement age (unless the government moves the goal posts yet again), I am beginning to be more selective about where I expend what is left of my energy. I can’t imagine ever ‘retiring’. Next year promises to be particularly exciting, with overseas speaking engagements and a novel publication date to look forward to, to say nothing of a whole new role in the job I must not mention.
Does this make me a rockstar? Not in the slightest and I certainly don’t do it for fame or fortune. It is what I love. My random historical life is still evolving and continues to be challenging, absorbing, all consuming. I often say that I either work 100 hours a week or just spend all my time enjoying myself. That others feel that they have benefited along the way, is gratifying. I am not a rockstar. I am merely one of many who are trying to encourage people to take an interest in their heritage. I am just an historian having fun and hopefully sharing my enthusiasm on the way.