Courses Operation Bletchley

What have I learned in July?

Term finished at Strathclyde at the end of June but I continued studying with Pharos. I have been learning about employment records and have been surprised at just how much there is out there. I will definitely be spending more time learning about my ancestors occupations in the future. I am now working on the end of unit assignment, focusing on how to learn more about my Hopkinson blacksmith ancestors.

I took a bit of a break from reading, but have been enjoying Ian Mortimer’s “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain.”

July went a bit pear-shaped when I ended up pacing the hospital grounds having dropped my husband at the “same day emergency care unit”. He is on the mend now but it was a worrying time. I didn’t focus very well and really didn’t take in very much from the talks that I was co-hosting uin the immediate aftermath.

I have co-hosted the Society of Genealogists “Tracing your London Ancestors” course, which continues into August. Very few of my ancestors came from London, but so many people visited or lived there for a while that this course feels very useful.

Course/WebinarSpeaker(s)OrganiserMy reflections
3 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 1. London Admin Boundaries & parish registers
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists Ian’s explanation of the various London boundaries was very useful. Having spent the majority of my life in the north of England and Wales I have a very bad habit of just calling it all “London”!
7 July
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 6 – The Schools Collection – a vastly underused resource & Lucky Dip
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheonSociety of GenealogistsThe Schools Collection is an amazing resource, and one I would love to see created again, not just in Ireland. For those that don’t know, like me, it was a 1930s project in which school children interviewed “old people” about a different topic each week and wrote up their findings. Each school chose the best reports each week to record in a manuscript book. It is fascinating!
10 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 2. Getting the best from the census (London) and 1939 register
John HansonSociety of Genealogists
17 July
Secrets and Lies: Adventures in other people’s family history
Dr Frances HurdSociety of Genealogists
17 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 3. In & Out of London
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists
22 July
Miscellany Researching forward from 1911
Les MitchinsonThe Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical StudiesLes gave advice on using the electoral registers, 1939 register and education records amongst others to trace more recent ancestors. We also learned about how the 1921 census, due to be released in January will be of use.
23 July
In Their Own Write: The Testimony of the Victorian English and Welsh Poor
Paul CarterThe National ArchivesVery interesting to hear the letters written from workhouses, and those who were receiving “out relief”
24 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 4. London Wills & Probate
Else ChurchillSociety of Genealogists A very useful reminder of how to find pre-1858 wills. More and more are available online.
29 July
Reading Old Handwriting (Palaeography) for Family Historians
Caroline GurneySociety of Genealogists The workshop format for this talk worked really well online. Caroline gave us plenty of suggestions and hints before we divided into groups to attempt to read a will from 1695.
31 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 5. London Sources at the London Metropolitan Archives
Jeff GerhardtSociety of Genealogists I had no idea how much is held by the LMA. Covid makes visiting and ordering records awkward but once things start to return to normal a visit would be fascinating.

Meanwhile, I have been walking. Since August 2020 I have completed Race At Your Pace walking events each month. I had set my distance at 100 miles but felt that the time had come to push myself. I am very proud of having walked 125 miles in July 2021. I used my Fitbit to count and every step counted towards the goal. I will add a picture of my medal as soon as it arrives. I have signed up for another 125 miles in August, it is another beautiful medal.

August Race at Your Pace Medal which I hope to earn by walking 125 miles in August.

The main reason that I challenged myself to walk further in July was Operation Bletchley. This is a virtual fundraising event organised by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and this was the third time I have taken part. This time it was three events in one and participants could choose Cairo (30 miles), London (50 miles) or Paris (100 miles). I decided to do all three.

For each challenge you have to walk the distance stated in order to deliver a coded message. The codes are received every 3, 5 or 10 miles depending on the challenge. For Cairo and London I only counted “walks” as tracked by MapMyFitness, but for Paris I counted every step as tracked by Fitbit.

Participants can choose to crack Junior, Codebreaker or Cypher Expert level codes. The tenth code for each uses the previous nine answers to get the final message. I won’t share the codes here but they will be available to purchase shortly. It has been a huge amount of fun, with help from my Mum on the codebreaking I managed all three distances, at all three levels. 90 codes in all. I have sent the Junior level codes onto my nieces and nephew to puzzle over during the summer holiday.

Sponsorship is open until the end of August 2021 so if you would like to sponsor me I would be very grateful.

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