Reaching & serving the community

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14 December 2017
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Alan Thwaites from Hastings and Rother FHS (HRFHS) tells us how they help people with their family history research in this expert blog.

In a town near you, there’s likely an enthusiastic band of family historians  - your local family history society members. These hardworking volunteers run family history societies to help teach people about family history and work to preserve the historic records of the area for the future. The range of historic projects they are involved in is vast. Read on for an inspiring example…

Q How does Hastings and Rother FHS (HRFHS) help people with their family history research?

A (Alan Thwaites) We are at the heart of 1066 Country, in the eastern corner of East Sussex, and cover many villages along with the larger conurbations of Hastings, Bexhill, Battle and Rye. A relatively small society, we are based in a research room at the Ore Centre and support members and non-members with their research. Some callers need us to do pretty much everything, some need a little help with computers and some are looking to search the more obscure records not available online. We also hold our monthly meetings at the Ore Centre with speakers on a range of local history topics. An annual Family History Story Writing Competition – now in its fourth year - has had some success in encouraging members to commit their family to a more permanent record.

Our main goal is to reach out to others in the area. We visit any other community group to spread the word. We also want to begin a scheme whereby individuals in the area who have mobility issues can obtain our help in their own home or an alternative venue. We are also looking to introduce workshop sessions in the Research Room for small groups.

All this is dependent upon encouraging volunteers to help. They do not have to be experts and do not need to devote a great deal of time. The reward of self-fulfilment is guaranteed. To find out more email: hrfhsenquiries@btinternet.com or visit their website

To find out more about family history societies, buy the Christmas issue of Family Tree, in the shops now, priced £5.99 and bagged with the Family History Handbook. The Handbook is packed with behind-the-scenes interviews with key family history society members and a directory of family history societies worldwide. Now SOLD OUT from the Family Tree website but still available from your newsagents or download the digital version here!