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Meet the team

Annelies Van Den Belt CEO DC Thomson Family History

Role

Annelies Van Den Belt joined DC Thomson Family History (formerly brightsolid) in September 2013, bringing a wealth of experience in online enterprise, digital content & publishing to the innovative genealogy organization. Hosting over 1.8 billion genealogical records across a family of online brands, DC Thomson Family History includes household names like findmypast and Genes Reunited. Her preceding role was Group Chief Executive of SUP Media, the leading digital publisher in Russia and the CIS, which recently merged with Rambler. A native of The Netherlands, Annelies previously worked for ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, where she was Managing Director of ITV Broadband. While at ITV she oversaw the launch of ITV.com in May 2007. From 2000-2007 Annelies worked at News International as Director of Digital in charge of The Times online sites, followed by a position as Director of New Media for The Telegraph group. Other roles before joining News International include publisher of The Moscow Times, St Petersburg Times, Russia Business Review; as well as launching Men's Health in Russia. Before joining the media industry Annelies worked for Johnson and Johnson, managing two of their medical devices businesses.

Paul Yates Brand Director

Role

I am the head of findmypast and lead a talented team to deliver one of the leading family history websites with the most amazing collection of historical records.

Family History

My ancestors are a very mixed bag. On my father's side there is a very long line of miners from Bolsover in Derbyshire. These ancestors are very easy to trace as they remained in the same village for many generations. On my mother's side there are more lofty connections to the Duke of Bedford, as well as my favorite ancestor who allegedly printed the first penny black.

Debra Chatfield Brand Manager

Role

One of the original team of four that launched the website back in 2003, (then known as 1837online), I now support the Brand Director in setting the vision for findmypast and work closely with teams to implement our product roadmap.

Family History

Among my ancestors are generations of Dartmoor blacksmiths, Norfolk carpenters dating back to Elizabethan times, pianoforte manufacturers from Shoreditch in London, and Robert Towell, the first full-time English infill plane maker (a tool for cabinet makers), one of whose signed 170 year old planes I now proudly own.

Myko Clelland Social Media & Content Lead

Role

I am responsible for spreading an infectious findmypast enthusiasm through social media, PR campaigns and talking to all of our lovely bloggers and influencers. I get to hear all of your stories first hand, making it all worthwhile!

Family History

My ancestry is fairly colorful, full of strange stories and interesting characters (which might explain a lot). One half is a long Ayrshire village line going back to the 1600s and beyond. The other is an old aristocratic family from Gela in Sicily, with a half century detour via the Libyan city of Tripoli where both sides met. The future king Umberto II actually paid for and arranged my great-grandmother's medical treatment!

Elaine Collins Director of Global Partnerships

Role

As findmypast's Director of Global Partnerships I lead the team responsible for acquiring new records for the site, key partnerships and international initiatives.

Family History

I come from a long line of English agricultural laborers and, when they gave up on country life and fled to the overcrowded houses of north London, carmen, laundresses and railway workers, with a smattering of Italian peasantry and Irish soldiers thrown into the mix. I consider myself a Londoner through and through, and I live in historic Clerkenwell within a one mile radius of the majority of my 19th and 20th century ancestors.

Alex Cox Researcher

Role

I use findmypast's fantastic records to dig out the great stories that help to bring family history to life.

Family History

I'm all English as far as I've discovered so far, with a dash of Huguenot very far back – One of my direct ancestors was Sir Thomas Skewes Cox, the MP for Kingston and one time mayor of Richmond! Another ancestor fought in the Crimea – I'm immensely proud of learning more about their achievements.

Nicky Doran Head of customer services

Nicky Doran's Photo

Role

I lead all of the support teams across the DC Thomson Family History websites.

Family History

I am first generation English as both of my parents and all of their ancestors originate from Ireland. While researching my extended family history, my family were surprised to find that my West Indian father-in-law's grandfather was the illegitimate son of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Paul Dunlop Product Manager

Role

I'm responsible for the global development of the findmypast website. Our customers, how they use the site, what they love, and what they dislike, are what I care about the most. I want findmypast to remain at the forefront of innovation in the industry, delivering our customers exciting new features, along with the most comprehensive online collection of family history records. I'm a techie by trade, so the intersection of technology and family history, and how they can enhance our customers' lives, are what drives me.

Family History

My ancestors are a disparate group, hailing from the furthest most reaches of the Scottish Isles, to the icy plains of Russia. We eventually came together on the Ayrshire coast of North-west Scotland, where most of us remain today. My background is often a challenge to most genealogy tools out there, a strong motivator in help make the best online tools for family research that I can.

Richard Jackson Data manager

Richard Jackson's Photo

Role

Relatively fresh to genealogy, I have been with findmypast since February 2010 and I spend my time dealing with data supplies from family history societies and transcription houses. I am responsible for loading data to the site and data and image quality.

Family History

I come from a long line of farmers, miners and blacksmiths - one of whom was almost bankrupted after the birth of the motor car.

Peter Lancaster Search developer

Peter Lancaster's Photo

Role

I was one of the web developers that built the 1837online which started with just the birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales before more records were added and the site was renamed to findmypast. I work on all aspects of the website but focus on providing searches when new records become available.

Family History

My own family history is all concentrated in the Preston area where my ancestors often worked in the thriving cotton industry on which much of the population of Preston relied during the 19th century.

Scot McSweeney-Roberts Software developer

Scot McSweeney-Roberts's Photo

Role

My job as software developer involves ensuring that the back-end of the findmypast website functions as efficiently as possible.

Family History

My ancestry is a mixed bag, to say the least. My McSweeney side is Irish- American. My maternal grandfather was born in America in around 1917 and I discovered that he worked on a submarine base in Groton, CT. My dad was born in Scotland and there are also Welsh links in my paternal line. My research has also uncovered some mining and firemen ancestors.

Paul Nixon Content Licensing Manager

Role

I work with Elaine Collins and Stephen Rigden to bring you the best family history records from data owners around the world. I am also findmypast's resident military expert.

Family History

It doesn't take much to divert me along various military history avenues, a trait I blame on my maternal great-grandfather, paternal grandfather and four great uncles, all of whom served their King and Country during WW1. My great great grandfather was a color sergeant with the 2nd Regiment of Foot and I have a letter from him, written to his commanding officer on 14 November 1861 (while stationed on the island of Corfu) asking to be 'allowed the indulgence' of getting married. Had permission not been granted, it seems unlikely I would be writing this...

Stephen Rigden Records Development Manager

Role

I work with archives, family history societies and other owners of original historical records to digitize these for findmypast. I also help and advise colleagues on family history questions and problems. You may recognize me as findmypast's resident family history expert. I have been a professional genealogist since 1987 and was with findmypast at the time of its first incarnation, Family Research Link, which metamorphosed into 1837online.

Family History

All my 16 great great grandparents were born east of the River Medway, so I am a bona fide man of Kent. As well as East Kent, my specialist interests include Eastern European and Balkan genealogy.

Katie Spinks Marketing Manager

Role

I am responsible for marketing findmypast internationally. This means understanding our customers in each country and creating marketing campaigns and adverts to promote the findmypast service. It is also my job to make sure new and existing customers are aware of all of the exciting things happening on the site, such as new records being launched and new features being added.

Family History

I've been researching my family history for a while now and we are a truly English lot with firm East London roots on my paternal side. Working in the London office means I am only a few miles from where my ancestors lived 100 years ago. My ancestors were mainly builders, laborers, or dock workers unless they escaped the busy London town to join the army.

Holly Thomas Content Lead

Role

I work with Myko to bring findmypast to life by providing content for the website, PR, writing the newsletters and blogs you read and working on current news stories.

Family History

I've only just begun my family history journey and I'm very excited to learn more. From what I know so far my great grandparents were Baronets from Devon and another side of the family were Norwegian ship owners. There's a healthy dose of American in there too.