Monday, 12 November 2012

FFHS writing competition

Last year the Federation of Family History Societies ( ran a competition in which they asked folk to write about their most interesting ancestor. The winners were to Who Do You Think You Are? Live where Nick Barratt presented them with prizes, and where they met representatives of the companies that had sponsored the competition.

The FFHS is running another competition this year, this time asking folk to write about their sporting ancestor! To give an example of the sort of thing they're looking, the FFHS's Philippa McCray has sent me a tale written by Steve Benson, the organisation's publicity officer, which describes his grandmother's take:

My maternal grandfather William Turner born 2nd March 1896 was quite a fit man in his youth. He went off to World War 1 (after lying about his age) with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and after training became a sniper. His shooting skill was excellent and he apparently represented the regiment at competitions at Bisley. On his 21st birthday while sniping in France near the front line he was blown out of a church spire by enemy artillery and badly wounded by shrapnel. But we are not concerned with this aspect of his sporting ability.

After the war he resumed his trade as a Master Butcher and slaughterman. His hobby on a sunny afternoon was to go Crown Green Bowling at the local social club over a couple of pints of bitter. He was a member of the bowling club there for many years. The club also had a very active fishing section which he was a member of for many years until he eventually fell out with the committee because they banned him from entering the annual fishing competition because he won every year!

Towards the end of his life (he died on 26 September 1968) I accompanied him on the train from Preston to Plymouth to my Uncle’s house, where he was going to stay for a few weeks. It was the night Sir Francis Chichester arrived back after sailing around the world single-handed.

He was also a bookie’s runner when this was highly illegal in the days before Betting Shops were legalised. I was regularly sent up to the Bookmakers each week with the clock full of bets for the horses and dogs and in those days I was on about three shillings pocket money a week but the bookie always gave me ten shillings if I took the clock up to his office. To a 12 year old this was a fortune at that time. I don’t think we can count a bookie’s runner as a category of sportsman though!

If you can come up with something similar, the FFHS would love to hear from you! The closing date is 31st December - full details can be found on their website at

(With thanks to Philippa)


Scotland 1750-1850 - 5 weeks online Pharos course, £45.99, taught by Chris Paton from 2 NOV 2012 - see
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

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