A big thankyou to Users and Researchers in the Archive and Study Centre!

Thanks to their nominations, and thanks to the support of  'Your Family History' magazine readers, the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre has been named as Your Family History's  "Archive of the Year".


On Saturday, February 23rd, at the "Who Do You Think You Are? Live" exhibition in London ('the biggest family history event in the world'), well-known BBC broadcaster, historian, and Editor-in-Chief of Your Family History magazine Dr. Nick Barratt presented the Archive and Study Centre with the prestigious Your Family History national "Archive of the Year" award. Past winners have included the Surrey County Council History Centre, and Medway Council's Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre in Kent.

In presenting the award, Dr. Barratt quoted from one of the many nominations:

"Not only do they collect and curate a range of small yet important archival material and collections, including oral histories, but they also provide a space for people to share memories and experiences relating to environment therapy – so continue to undertake therapeutic work today. All this is done on a small budget, showing that you don’t need millions of pounds to make a difference to people’s lives."

This is a wonderful endorsement of the work we have been able to do, especially with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant during our "Therapeutic Living With Other Peoples' Children: An oral history of residential therapeutic child care" project in 2010-2011. As well as students and young people, we have been able to work closely with a number of people who were children in care, their families, and friends; and to discover and demonstrate how remarkably 'therapeutic' archives can be in practice.


Receiving the award for the Archive and Study Centre were archivist Craig Fees and team members Gemma Geldart and Chris Long, who were core team members of the award-winning "Other Peoples' Children" project. PETT was so impressed with their work and with the very real difference it made to people's lives that when the funding for the project came to an end, the Trust asked them to stay on, and to continue to develop their work with former children, staff and families from residential therapeutic communities, many of which are now closed.

In hearing of the award, Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers' Association noted the many difficulties facing care leavers in attempting to discover their histories, with some growing up living between care placements and their own families, and others exclusively in care for specific periods. "In all these cases there are questions to be answered, and it is often once one reaches adulthood, has a family of one’s own and life is somewhat settled that one begins to reflect on the past." At this point they often find their paths blocked. "The CLA's It's Our History, It's Our Right: Reclaiming the Past campaign aims to promote awareness of care leavers' rights to access their files; of the importance of these personal records to care leavers; and to promote best practice on accessing these vital documents amongst archivists and other professionals working in this area."

"Curiosity; fragmented memories; photos to show your own children; reminiscing; making sense of difficult memories and life events; seeking answers about why one went into care, as families often have disparate explanations; trying to trace family and even seeking medical information in reference to hereditary illness/disease are all reasons why care leavers need and want to access their files."

Richard Rollinson, Executive Director of PETT notes: "The Planned Environment Therapy Trust is proud to be able to provide a real 'Home Base' for former children in care, staff members, and their families, and we are over the moon at this award for the Archive team. The irony is, however, that unless we find significant financial support immediately, our remarkable team will be broken up. Gemma and Chris will be leaving us at the end of March, and Craig Fees will become part-time.  This award underlines the unique and important work we have been able to do, and will continue to do to the best of our ability. But while it doesn't take millions, and love and commitment can achieve a great deal, it clearly takes something.  In difficult financial times, the Trust has ensured that the archives themselves will remain safe; but archives need people. To continue to make such a powerful difference to people’s lives, we need help."

Online donations to support the work of the Archive and Study Centre can be made on our MyDonate page



The Your Family History Magazine "Archive of the Year" Award

Your Family History Magazine  instituted its "Archive of the Year Award"  in 2010 to help raise awareness of the plight of our local archive services and to recognise and celebrate excellence in archives. Readers of the magazine and members of the public are invited to nominate their Archive of the Year, telling the judging panel about the service provided by the staff; the facilities in the search rooms; the accessibility and quality of the catalogue and finding aids; the range of services provided online, including access to digitised records; the range of documents available for consultation; connections with the local community; and facilities for disabled people.  

 Every UK national, county or municipal record office; local study centre; specialist and regional archive; and university or library manuscript collection is eligible for nomination. The standards are high, and the Archive fortunate enough to win has been judged outstanding. Past winners of the Award have included  the Surrey County Council History Centre, and Kent County Council's  Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Those judged "Highly Commended" have included Birmingham Archives,  Darlington Library’s Centre for Local Studies, and Wolverhampton Archives.

Your Family History Magazine

Your Family History  magazine is a unique genealogy magazine which has  assembled a team of leading experts, researchers and historians to show readers not only how to discover who their ancestors were, but also guide them into the rich local and social history that brings context to their lives.

Nick Barratt, a former genealogy consultant to the BBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' series, is the 
Editor-in-Chief and is joined by a number of genealogy experts on the editorial team.

Your Family History  magazine features a range of topics in each issue, linking individuals' personal research with local and national heritage themes through the magazine's connections with English Heritage, National Trust and the world of archives. For further information, see http://www.your-familyhistory.com .

Dr Nick Barratt

Dr. Nick Barratt  is head of the judging panel and Editor-in-Chief of Your Family History magazine. Nick obtained his PhD in Medieval History from King’s College London in 1996, and worked at the Public Record Office – now The National Archives – until 2000, when he joined the BBC as a specialist researcher (2000-2002) and founded Sticks Research Agency (SRA). Having worked on projects such as House Detectives, Invasion, One Foot in the Past and the BAFTA nominated Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, he teamed up with Wall to Wall as the genealogical consultant and lead researcher on Who Do You Think You Are, also presenting the ‘how to’ section at the end of each episode for series 1 as well as ten short films for BBC Interactive.

Since then he has lectured on all aspects of genealogy, personal heritage and local history, as well as written numerous books on the subject – ‘Tracing the History of Your House’ (TNA), ‘The Who Do You Think You Are Encyclopedia of Genealogy’ (Harper Collins), ‘Researching Your Family History Online for Dummies’ (Wileys) and the recently published and critically acclaimed ‘Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors’ Lives’ (Pen & Sword). Other television presenting roles have included ‘So You Think You’re Royal’ (Sky), ‘History Mysteries’ (BBC2), ‘Hidden House History’ (History Channel), ‘Secrets from the Attic’ (ITV) and ‘Live the Dream: As Seen on Screen’ (ITV), whilst he is the studio genealogist for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Tracing Your Roots’.

The Care Leavers Association

The CLA is a user-led charity run by care leavers for care leavers, the aim of which is to bring together the voices of care leavers of all ages so that we improve the current care system, improve the quality of life of care leavers throughout their life, and change for the better society’s perception of people who have been in care: http://www.careleavers.com . The Care Leavers’ Association, through the campaign work of ‘It’s our History, It’s Our right; Reclaiming Our Past’, seeks to:

Promote awareness of care leavers' rights to access their files

Promote awareness of the importance of these personal records to care leavers

Promote best practice on accessing these vital documents amongst professionals working in this area.