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Ancestry classes launched at East Grinstead day centre

By East Grinstead Courier  |  Posted: March 05, 2012

  • ancestry: Beryl Cheeseman has 45 years of genealogy experience

  • EXPLORING THE PAST: Age Concern in Queens Road hosts a weekly session where ancestors can be traced

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A NEW genealogy group has been formed to help people in East Grinstead research their family history.

Those looking for their long-lost ancestors can get help at Age Concern in Queens Road, East Grinstead.

The weekly sessions are run by Beryl Cheeseman, who has 45 years' experience in the field, including working as a researcher for the East Surrey Family History Society.

She said: "Tracing one's family tree brings in unexpected family memories, things that you had heard long, long ago now take on a new meaning.

"Yes, everyone would like to find someone famous, but until you delve into the past you will never know.

"Every family has an interesting story that has been handed down as hearsay, yet in all hearsay there is some truth."

Several intrigued members of Age Concern have visited the Swan Mead Day Centre since the group was launched last Wednesday.

Gordon Heasman wanted to find out more about his great- great-grandfather, who is believed to have been a bare-knuckle boxer in Crawley Down in the mid-19th century.

William George Heasman, also known as Trimmer Heasman, is said to have abandoned his two children in the area, before moving to start a new family in Blackheath, south London.

Gordon thinks his great-grandfather may have been brought up, and his sister, by a family in Turners Hill, after they were abandoned in the village aged just two or three.

The 75-year-old, of Fairlawn Drive, said: "It's been difficult trying to find out anything, but it's intriguing.

"I would really like to trace his family in Blackheath, because he just seemed to disappear off the planet."

Mrs Cheeseman, who has written several books on the history of Upper Norwood, including Triangle Memories, offers help and guidance to the group on how to research their family history.

"There is so much material available at the county record offices, libraries and, of course, the internet," she said. "It does not have to be a costly hobby. Once over the initial grandparents, you can go sailing back into time.

"Photographs, especially with names and dates on the back, are of great help, plus gossip from all near and distant relatives.

"Once started, it is a fever that will never end."

The genealogy sessions are run at Age Concern every Wednesday from 10.30am to noon at a cost of £2.50 per person.

Tea and biscuits are included. For further details, contact Age Concern on 01342 327046.

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