"You Need Somebody Who Cares"
Posted on 23rd March 2018 at 11:47
A Customer's Experience of Footsteps
In this week's blog, Ben Nicholls, leading international family historian and founder of Footsteps, recounts a recent client engagement and what it meant to both the client and to Ben...
"One of my customers, Katherine, agreed to have a chat with me about her experience with Footsteps. Listening to her feedback was really heart-warming, and also quite emotional to be honest! I’m excited about sharing this with you.
Katherine approached us in early 2017 to help her find out more about her family history after reading an article about Footsteps in the local press."
“I felt that from what the article said about you, you were the right person,” Katherine told me. “I had dipped my toe in the water and spoken with a couple of people that provided a similar service, but I think if you’re committing your family information to somebody, you need to be able to actually link with that person or like where they’re coming from, so you fitted that bill.”
I asked her what it was about me and the ethos of my business that made her feel I was the right person to go on this journey with.
“It was the fact that you said we would meet and we could bring family members as well when you’d finished it all, and you would sit and go through the research. That to me clinched the deal, because it’s alright to have something on paper and you read through it, but it doesn’t give every bit of understanding. The way you presented it was that you told a story about my family, and that was very special.”
Katherine wanted me to look into her father’s side of her family as he had died when she was very young. She never met her father’s parents, so she felt there was a whole gap in her life that she knew nothing about, with no-one left to tell the story.
“The only way of finding their story out was by you finding where they came from, where they lived, the jobs they did. There were traits that you found out that I hoped we’d find out, and which answered why some of my family and myself have the likes and the skills that we have. I work with flowers, for example, and there were a couple of gardeners in my family history.”
“Also they were very caring about their families. A lot of the girls stayed home to look after elderly people and I thought I can see that trait running through our family today.”
Katherine loved the fact she could invite her family to the follow-up consultation, during which I presented my research to them.
“My sister and niece and daughter knew I was doing it, but for me to explain it to them wouldn’t have done it justice. I think it was very important that you met the rest of the family, because they asked you questions and they asked you to clarify things. And we had a cup of tea and a biscuit and we chatted and it was very friendly and informal and that was important as well.”
As we were talking, Katherine mentioned, “Sadly in January, one of the people on the family tree died. She got to 105 and this was my father’s cousin. So I’ve now got the tree out and I’ve put her date of death in.”
When I remembered that this cousin lived in Southampton, Katherine smiled. “You see, now this proves the point Ben! You’ve remembered that, which says to me you involve yourself completely in it.”
Katherine wanted to emphasise how important it was to her that I knew about her family and was happy to listen to her talk about her relatives.
“You need somebody who cares to discuss these details with. Most important. And I think when a lot of your family have died, you actually still want to talk about them, and it’s difficult talking about them with people who never knew them. Although you didn’t actually know them, you knew of them and you knew quite a bit about them, so that’s lovely.”
So not only is our work here at Footsteps fascinating, but we also get to meet lovely people like Katherine and bring something of real emotional value to their lives!
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