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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.

D. Joshua Taylor Business Development Manager

Role

As a professional genealogist, I work to develop and evaluate US content for findmypast and foster partnerships between findmypast US and the family history community.

Family History

I am one-half English, with ancestors arriving in the United States as early as 1620 and as late as 1875, one-quarter Danish, and one quarter French-Canadian, Italian, Swiss, German and Irish. Many of my ancestors were hard-working farmers, who migrated from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states out west.

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.

Vicki Dawson Country Manager, Australia

Role

As General Manager of findmypast Australia my role is to lead the Australian team to ensure delivery of a great collection of unique records and ensure your experience discovering your family history using findmypast is rewarding and enjoyable.

Family History

I'm lucky enough to come from a family that has a deep understanding of the importance of knowing your heritage, with many keepsakes and photos that have been passed down. My maternal side reveals a long line of steel workers from Sheffield, UK who moved from Norfolk to Sheffield during the industrial revolution. At one stage there were three generations of the family working in the same steel works in Sheffield. My paternal side were Scottish immigrants who came to Australia in the 1850s and come from a long line of farmers.

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.

Shane Gellerman Data Assistant, US & Canada

Role

I am responsible for assisting D. Joshua Taylor, the data manager for the United States and Canada, locate and prepare records for use on findmypast

Family History

As a child, my first research into family history led to my discovery of my family's Hungarian ancestry, along with goulash and Rubiks' cubes. Since then, I have learned that all my grandparents and great grandparents lived for many years within the same few blocks in Brooklyn, New York.

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.

Cliona Weldon Country Manager, Ireland

Role

It's my job to help the team provide you with the best experience possible when researching your Irish family history.

Family History

I'm relatively new to family history but so far I've discovered I come from at least six generations of Dubliners, courtesy of my father. I'm currently hunting down a suspected Scottish connection on my mother's side.