A decade of digging
Alan Crosby celebrates the achievements of Ryedale Family History Group over the past 10 years
Ryedale Family History Group in North Yorkshire celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Its chairman, Peter Braithwaite is delighted with the landmark: “In that time we’ve established ourselves as the leading family history group in the area.”
At its AGM to mark the event in July, he thanked everyone involved, especially members and volunteers who had taken part in projects, for their support over the years.
The group was originally inspired by an existing local history society in the small market town of Kirkbymoorside. Various people thought there was scope for widening the geographical area and Janice Wood, a volunteer who was involved in planning the idea and is now vice chairman, described their astonishment at the group’s appeal and how they got things underway: “We advertised a meeting back in 2005 across Ryedale for people to attend and let us know if they were interested in the idea. In the end, 40 people turned up!”
Initially, the group had no fixed base but eventually found a permanent place in Hovingham Village Hall, and has held the weekly Research Room there ever since.
The group uses various internet sites, a growing store of local resources, and a lot of invaluable local knowledge, which enables members and non-members to come and research (with the help of volunteers) every Thursday. There are often seven or eight volunteers at each session, with plenty of expertise to enable newcomers unfamiliar with the websites or technology to easily navigate the vast quantity of records and data available. Janice suggested that: “As it is very easy to get it wrong and be led on a trail down the wrong lineage, having the volunteers on hand to help is a vital asset.”
Peter adds: “In these 10 years, we have achieved so much with the help of a great many volunteers and the support of our membership.
“We have transcribed and produced more than 75 CDs and books of local parish registers. We have also been successful with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which has enabled us to move forward and also to set up the War Memorial Project, which has involved many people and continues.”
As Peter noted, the group has received several funding grants, as well as financial support over the years. Originally, the Kirkbymoorside Local History Group gave funding to enable members to set up their own website, while Awards for All allowed them to purchase equipment, website accounts and office space.
Later, the group applied to the HLF so that it could run extra projects for the area. It has produced books on the soldiers remembered in local war memorials and has digitised parish records and microfilms (which required some expensive equipment to transfer microfilms to computers). Volunteers worked on transcribing parish records to a digital format and the HLF awarded £47,000 to carry out these projects.
Advertising for volunteers produced received an incredible response, as Janice explains: “At our peak, we had 53 volunteers in total from all over the world, including New Zealand. Transcribing records is a process that requires a lot of hard work and patience, and we have been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of everyone involved.”
She explained how the group has a new slogan, “digging up your roots”, and excellent facilities and equipment, with that willing team of experienced volunteers offering help and advice on family history wherever your ancestors may be.
“We meet on the third Wednesday of every month in venues across the whole of Ryedale, including Malton, Helmsley, Hovingham, Kirkbymoorside and Pickering, with speakers covering a wide range of local and family history subjects. Absolutely anybody is welcome to come along and find out more.”
The group uses various internet sites, a growing store of local resources, and a lot of invaluable local knowledge
M Membersb of fR Ryedaled lF Familyil Hi Historyt Group mark its 10th anniversary with a
celebratory cake at the July AGM