After a previous life working in the broadcast media, I now work as a professional Scottish based genealogist, writer, lecturer and tutor. With my wife and two young sons I reside in the picturesque Ayrshire town of Largs, on the Western Scottish coast.
Previous media career
After graduating from the University of Ulster in 1991 (HND Design & Communication) and the University of the West of England in 1994 (BA Hons Time Based Media), I spent twelve years working as a documentary maker for both the British Broadcasting Corporation and Scottish Television, primarily working on historical series such as Secret History, Meet the Ancestors,Coast, and the aerial archaeology series Time Flyers. I left the BBC after asking for voluntary redundancy in February 2006, in order to pursue a career in genealogical research.
Having left the BBC, I initially studied for a Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde to further my passion for family history research, with which I have been engaged and fascinated by for over a decade. Amongst my studies I completed a dissertation on the role of the handloom weaving community of Perth from 1770 to 1845, creating a database employing seldom seen privately held documents on the Weavers Incorporation, which I have continued to develop since finishing the course.
After the certificate I studied for the Postgraduate Diploma in the same subject, with the final year dissertation this time concerning the role of the King James VI Hospital in Perth as a 19th Century feudal superior. In addition to running the Scotland's Greatest Story family history research service, I also write regularly for most of the British family history press and to the British GENES (GEnealogy News and EventS) blog. I am a member of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) User Forum and the Scottish Genealogy Network, a director of the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) Ltd since May 2013, and also have membership of the North of Ireland Family History Society, the Scottish Local History Forum, and the Scottish Genealogy Society. I am registered with the Information Commissioner's Office as a data controller (reference ZA003748).
I work as a tutor with online family history and genealogy course provider Pharos Teaching & Tutoring Limited, teaching the Scottish Research Online and Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs courses. The five week long courses, which cost £45.99 each, provide detailed introductions to the key online databases, offline resources and key research methodologies used in Scottish family history research today. For more information please visit www.pharostutors.com. I have also worked as a tutor on the University of Strathclyde's postgraduate programme in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies, via the Centre for Lifelong Studies. For details on the postgraduate certificate, diploma and masters courses please visit www.strath.ac.uk/genealogy/.
I have weirdly found myself on the other side of the lens a few times since leaving. In January 2008 I was interviewed with regard to my genealogical research on the BBC 1's Reporting Scotland news programme, as well as on Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7177054.stm). I have also contributed research to BBC Radio Scotland's Digging Up Your Roots family history series in 2007, and was featured in a programme within the series broadcast in January 2008, concerning an axe murder in my family that I have researched. In November 2008 I was again featured on Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland, with regards to research I have been doing on the Ruhleben POW camp in WW1 Germany, where 5500 civilians were interned (see German War Camp Remembered). In March 2010 I was featured in the last edition of BBC Radio Scotland's Past Lives series, retelling the story of my grandfather's childhood in occupied Brussels in the First World War. In April 2011 I was again interviewed for Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland in the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh for a piece concerning the release of the 1911 Scottish census (see Scottish 1911 Census details revealed after 100 years).