15 May 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Live – Birmingham, England April 2015

Yes, it has been weeks since we all returned from Birmingham, and I have not been enthused enough to blog about the experience.  There is the good and the bad of it all, and being spoiled does not help my outlook.

So why you ask I was reluctant to post.

The venue moved from the Olympia Center in London to Birmingham, in the Midlands.  The reasons seem to be that Earl’s Court was closed so the venues there had to go somewhere, and one vendor plunked down more money to replace Who Do You Think You Are? who lost their lease.  At least that is what I am told.

Although the aisles at the NEC in Birmingham were spacious, it is apparent the hall was smaller than Olympia and there were fewer vendors and attendees.  It is nice to be able to reach out to people who may not have been able to come to London for the venue, and perhaps, in the next few years, the vendors and numbers will increase.

The lecture areas were not enclosed so the sound carried, providing much background noise.  Although the FTDNA area is never enclosed, the noise from the others as well as the traffic made listening and recording difficult.  Also, the size of the Family Tree DNA lecture area was much smaller than that in London which meant that many people had to stand.  The ISOGG stand was minuscule, but everyone had no choice but to make the best of it all.

As a result of fewer attendees, fewer DNA tests were purchased, and I sold just over half the number of books that I sold the previous year in London.

For those of us who travel from the United States to work at the Family Tree DNA booth, our expenses (for those of us who receive no reimbursement or compensation) were astronomical.  I fly from the West coast and my airfare was 50% more than going to London.  I realize the airfares are constantly traveling upward and this area’s airport is smaller; however, even in London, the airfare rose by only $100 or so each year.  A few of us could not afford to state at a hotel near NEC due to the cost being double of that in a nearby location.  Of course, we were always spoiled in London by having a B&B only 2 or 3 blocks way from Olympia which always gave us a great rate.  However, we were saved by our genetic genealogy pal, James Irvine who chauffeured us back and forth to NEC. What a wonderful, kind man! Thank you James!

AND, my understanding is that the cost of the stand increased greatly over the price in London.

So where is the good in all this?

We had some wonderful speakers thanks to the efforts of Maurice Gleeson and Debbie Kennett.  Maurice hosted the programs and uploaded the presentations to YouTube  where you can view those who gave permission to share with you. (My two presentations are there, also.) Joss Le Gall was superb in ushering people to the presentations, distributing handouts and guiding them to the Family Tree DNA stand for testing. 

Turi King gave a wonderful review of finding the grave of King Richard III.  No doubt it was the largest program attended. Professor Mark Jobling from Leicester University spoke on “Fishing for Vikings in the Gene Pool” and Professor Mark Thomas at University College London presented on “Ancestry testing using DNA: The pros and cons” which focused on Y-DNA testing and mitochondrial DNA and the problems in using these to determine where your ancestors were located. His presentation is available on the above line and is a very good one to view.

See Debbie Kennett’s in-depth post on Birmingham.  

It is always nice to be able to share the opportunity of DNA testing for genealogy with new people, and this area provided a new arena. It’s always a treat to see old friends and meet new people. 

I was able to meet a newly found cousin of a man I know from my presentations in my home state.  Both cousins are a delight, and below you can see our meeting, along with a photo of the two cousins.  Jeff was in my audience as I told his story at WDYTYA.  He also showed me a photo of Cliff’s brother who looks even more like Jeff!
Jeff in Wales
Cliff in the US
It was also very nice to chat with Professor Mark Thomas over drinks.  I found him very personable.  He was very complimentary to all of us and strongly suggested that we were not "citizen scientists" but scientists.  His belief is that whoever uses scientific tools deserves the title.

This year, my wonderful roommate was Traci Barela who currently lives in Germany.  She and I flew to Frankfort, and I stayed at her home for a few days as a guest.  I spoke to her friends regarding DNA, and we spent a day in Krefeld as my ancestors came from there in 1683.  They were part of the immigrants who started Germantown, Pennsylvania, and the first petition against slavery in the US was signed on my ancestor's table.  I'm greatly proud of that, and am most appreciative to Traci for being so gracious to have me and to make the train trip north so I could trod the land of my ancestors.  Thank you Traci!
Traci and I with skyline of Frankfurt

Lunch at the old Frankfort square

Berg Linn Castle - the only place from my ancestors' time period.

WDYTYA will return to Birmingham April 7-9, 2016, so join us to learn more about what is available in the UK for genealogy and take a DNA test.

See you there!

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