Ben Nicholls, leading international genealogist and founder of Footsteps, recounts a wonderful recent experience in his own family history research... 
"DNA is magic! It makes the seemingly impossible, possible. I love it.  
When memories and documents are lost, DNA can provide answers that no other source can. Best of all, it is becoming rapidly more popular and more accessible to the general public. 
As the DNA wizards continue their research, we realise that our genetic codes can tell us more than we ever thought possible about ourselves and our ancestors. 
I took a DNA test a while ago to learn about my ethnic background and as a bonus, I got an e-mail last year from a lady called Fionnuala, who had also done a test. 
It turned out we were quite closely related. Our mutual ancestors were from the Scottish town of Helensburgh, near Glasgow where my mum was born. Our small branch of the family left the area long ago. As children, mum took us to Helensburgh and we met her uncle but once he died, our last living family connection to the town was lost. 
Fionnuala, whose grandfather left Helensburgh for Ireland, had made contact with some of the relatives who still lived in the town and before long, a family reunion was arranged. We called it the “Gathering of the Clan”! 
In August last year, 12 of us met up in Helensburgh to share stories, memories and photos. We all agreed it was a great success and plan to do something similar later this year. 
The biggest thrill I got was watching my mum talking to the older two ladies who knew her parents and her uncle well. She could talk about her memories from 65 years ago and sometimes they could confirm that she had remembered things correctly!  
They were also able to answer questions she never thought she’d have answered." 
If you enjoyed this blog and it has inspired you to find out more about your family, click HERE to take the next step. 
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