Celebrity-endorsed project inspires Lincoln kids to learn about their past

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Schoolchildren in Lincoln will have the opportunity to research their family history thanks to a project launched by actor Colin McFarlane.

Making History will be unveiled in 11 schools in the city, with a focus on ancestors who lived and fought during the First World War, to mark the centenary of the conflict.

Pupils will use iPads to produce videos on their individual stories, with the most interesting short films to be screened in Lincoln and at the British Film Institute in London in November.

Support for the students will be provided by teachers and also by professional mentors such as television genealogy consultant Dr Nick Barratt, Neil Fraser from family history experts Fraser and Fraser who worked on BBC’s daytime show Heir Hunters, and the MyHeritage website.

Educational training for schools will be led by Apple and educational specialist David Kirtlan and Lois Mee from Elsium.

Colin said: “The easiest way to summarise the project is as a celebrity-led Who Do You Think You Are for children.

“The beauty of children doing family history is that they can use the knowledge of their parents and grandparents and can be inspired in this way. It’s incredibly important they are given the opportunity as understanding your past and where you come from breaks down barriers between class, cultures and generations, showing us that we’re all connected.

“The average age of someone researching their family history is 55 so this project rips up that statistic by involving the whole family and empowers and inspires children to follow their dreams.

“From the original pilot involving only 35 students, we found out some amazing stories ranging from one pupil finding a probable family connection to Hitler’s brother, to another researching a link to a American silent movie star.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

“In 2011, when the pilot had just begun, ten students from Lincoln Castle Academy had said that they weren’t going to go to university because of the tuition fees rise.

“After the project, nine of the ten went to university to study History and Politics and one of them has got a job working in Japan and the other is working in the House of Commons. That’s all from doing Making History and shows the power of the project.”

If the project is a success, plans are in place to roll it out across the country and overseas in the future.