Out of the blue, on 15th February 2021, I received a message from our very own Daniel, who asked if I would like to become a member of The Hidden Branch team. To be completely candid, I had no clue what The Hidden Branch was, nor was I really actively engaged in the wider genealogy world. I had my Instagram (that was how I was found) and a website that I hadn’t touched in about ten months, but that was all.

Very quickly, I became engaged in the wider genealogy world, making new genealogy social media accounts. Twitter became my leading platform, which was ironic considering I had never even properly touched the platform before. I also slightly revamped my website and began to familiarise myself with all the world I have rightly or wrongly (I will let you be the judge of that) submerged myself in.

My passion for writing (and language more generally) burst onto the scene, which is still very real as I write this post. I was very fortunate, to be fair, as plenty of opportunities appeared. Firstly, I wrote my Luke McGinty submission for the Southern California Genealogical Society’s “The Stars in Your Family” alongside writing an adapted version for the THB blog. I was also very kindly asked to write for my local Huddersfield and District Family History Society’s quarterly journal and also write a piece on my journey in genealogy for Crossroads, the quarterly publication of the Utah Genealogical Association.

Andrew Martin also very kindly invited me onto his excellent Family Histories Podcast. Annoyingly, I couldn’t get involved straight away, as I was doing my final exams before leaving Secondary School, but once the glorious 11th May hit and I left school, I managed to record my episode. Andrew was a great host, and I just want to take this opportunity to thank him for inviting me on!

Joining The Hidden Branch and the wider genealogy community has introduced me to an interesting and lovely bunch of individuals who I am privileged to call friends or be acquainted with. This is one of the more powerful aspects of The Hidden Branch to me as it manages to connect people all across the world. The Twitter account location of ‘worldwide’ doesn’t lie!

I was privileged enough to be part of the interviewing process for some new team members in the summer, meeting even more inspiring individuals. I also wrote more for the blog, really enjoying myself in the process! Furthermore, our amazing Abamssodrs joined the Team around this period. It was great to meet some inspiring figures in the genealogy community who very kindly helped us out.

I partook in many different projects that were not Hidden Branch related over the summer and autumn, namely relaunching my website and writing on my blog. I also began writing my Liversedge’s Finest book as part of my EPQ project. If I had not engaged with the Hidden Branch and the genealogy community, I doubt I would have even thought to have done those things.

Perhaps I should make it clear that it isn’t just me bragging about what I have done this year. Instead, I wish to implore anybody of any background, especially younger genealogists, to become more engaged. Write/make/speak about things, take your chances and trust me, you will thank yourself for it. Our job at The Hidden Branch is to lead by example and show young genealogists that things are possible.

We tend to talk about the possible negativity towards younger genealogists in the wider community, which I luckily have seldom come across, so I feel it is essential to look on the bright side of things. For every negative individual, there are ten positive people. I also thought it was fitting to thank all those that have given me so many opportunities this year, and I am very grateful. They are all stars!

2021, despite all its blindingly apparent flaws, has been an excellent year for me, mainly down to The Hidden Branch and its incredible team. I will always be grateful, and I am looking forward to next year.

From me and everyone at The Hidden Branch, have a happy and successful new year!