The final day of RootsTech London meant another early start. Out of bed at 6.45 a.m., a quick cup of tea and browse of my emails before hitting the shower and “putting on my slap” before breakfast and off to the ExCel Centre in time for my “tech check” scheduled for 8.30 a.m. I also needed to pop into the Speaker’s Lounge, thoughtfully provided by the organisers, to pick up my gift and card from Heidi Ertel and Tara Bergeson before getting ready for my talk at 9.00 a.m. Thank you very much, it was much appreciated.
Arriving in the classroom, I discovered I was not the only one, already 4 people were sitting in the audience, so it gave me a great opportunity to chat, and help calm my nerves. In view of my competition on Saturday morning as England were playing New Zealand in the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup, I have to say I was delighted by the size of the audience who came to hear me speak about Researching English and Welsh Workhouse Records. This seemed to go well and I was asked lots of questions. Several people spotted me in the Expo Hall later in the day and asked even more questions.
Saturday was also the day when families came along with their children and there were numerous activities provided by the organisers to keep the younger visitors engaged with lots of family history related activities.
Once the talk was over, it was down to the main hall for the Saturday keynote. Nick Barrett, the M.C. spoke briefly before introducing Donny Osmond to the large audience. Donny is the custodian of the family history archive which his late mother originally researched and which Donny has added to over the years. He has been involved with showbusiness since he was 5 years old and accordingly his family story has been well documented, but he encouraged us all to write down our experiences, amusing anecdotes and describe personalities for posterity.
He told us the family story of the discovery of the Osmond Brothers and their many appearances on the Andy Williams Show. When growing up, I was a great Andy Williams fan and had several vinyl records in my collection. When Donny sang Moon River in tribute to Andy I was delighted.
Many of you will be aware that I am researching a PhD, as it happens one off my supervisors is a real Donny fan. Being in Australia at the time of RootsTech she was unable to attend, but I took several photos and posted them to her – obviously to make her jealous. I am sure she would have been in the queue waiting to have a meet and greet with Donny later. Ambassadors were then able to conduct group interviews with Donny. We were all able to ask one question, and mine was to ask “What is the most exciting family history discovery which made you do the genealogist’s Happy Dance?” His answer: discovering he was related to Andy Williams!
You can watch the general keynote sessions by clicking here https://www.rootstech.org/category/2019-london-keynotes-general-sessions
For the remainder of the day I was busy meeting and greeting friends and colleagues, and discovering a DNA distant cousin had left a message for me, wanting to chat. We are now connected and planning to try and work out who our common ancestors are.
Towards the end of the day, I finally found time to meet Alex Cox of FindMyPast. Alex is on Facebook hosting FindMyPast Live on Friday afternoons, which I try to watch most Fridays. He and I first met in person a couple of years ago in Salt Lake City, so it was fun to catch up again. Thankfully Alex has longer arms than me, but we managed a selfie!
RootsTech London has been an amazing experience. Having attended events in Salt Lake City, I had an idea of what to expect of course. It was a very enjoyable experience, the organisation was excellent and the whole crew were very friendly and helpful. I hope they are able to return in the future and maybe you too will have the opportunity to attend RootsTech London.