This is an article published in the Christmas 2016 edition of the Hayling Island newsletter...
After nearly 5 years our family history group has closed. We have had a marvellous time together but many of the group have gone as far as they want to go at the moment, and for me it is - quite literally - time to move on to Ledbury, Herefordshire, to be nearer to our family. After 46 years on the island, we are both daunted and excited by this new venture, but we certainly do feel the need to cut down on the long-distance driving, for the family and for us.
The group started in Oct 2011 with seven of us, five of whom were still attending. Our highest membership was nine - any more and I ran out of enough chair space to allow everyone to see the TV, as I had worked out how to project my iPad onto the screen. This enabled us to turn ourselves into a workshop group, so that for half of the morning we could help each other to search for our ancestors online, with us all chipping in to spot the results as they popped up (or didn't!); the other half of the morning we spent on the topics which we needed to understand in order to 'do' family history.
We have had some great adventures, discovering all manner of lives from the colourful to the mundane, meeting each other's ancestors and being intrigued by their stories as they unfolded. We have constructed Family Trees together, using a big (U3A) flip-chart; not by any means beautifully drawn charts, to be treasured by future generations (though we had those in the group too) - just scruffy, straggly, incredibly useful pencil entries, which we could add to and rub out as we went along. We haven't become experts, or found all the answers - family historians never do - but we have learned a great deal, had a lot of fun, enjoyed each other’s company and eaten rather too many biscuits!
I hope those who are interested in going on, or waiting to join a group, will be able to do so with a new or existing group. Please do contact the group co-ordinator, Ken Osborne, about this.
As far as I am concerned, this has been a most treasured experience, and I shall not forget the delightful company I have been lucky enough to be a part of, both within the group and Hayling U3A. Very many thanks to all who have made it such a hugely enjoyable time!