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We have a great interview today in the Onward To Our Past® Genealogy interview series! 

Quite often I have spoken here, and elsewhere, about a really amazing group of volunteers and their website, Online Parish Clerks of the United Kingdom.  While I personally tend to use the Cornwall region and its’ Parishes most of all, this is a nationwide undertaking in the United Kingdom that is invaluable if you are doing any sort of work on ancestry in the UK. 

Today’s guest is what I’ll call the chief volunteer (since they are all volunteer) of the OPC initiative, Ms. Myra Cordrey.  I am thrilled she agreed to an interview for us all!
Myra Cordrey on right at 10th Anniversary Celebration of the OPC
 Scott:  Onward To Our Past® guest interviewee, kindly give us your name, organization, your title, and preferred contact method, please.
Myra Cordrey:  “OPC (Genealogy) Coordinator for Cornwall, contact myra@minebydesign.co.uk (as Online Parish Clerks, we do 99.9% of our communications online!)”
Scott:  What is your function with the OPC and how did you come to it?
Myra:  “Coordinator, database maintenance & uploads (http://www.cornwall-opc-database.org/index.php), website maintenance & uploads (http://www.cornwall-opc.org/), OPC recruitment & general dogsbody.  I was elected as coordinator when the previous guy resigned in 2005. Other jobs have just developed, because I had the necessary skills from my paid employment.”
Scott:  How long have you, personally, been a part of the OPC work?
Myra:  “Since 2002.”
Scott:  What is your favorite part of your OPC work efforts?
Myra:  “Completing a project and receiving notifications that our efforts have been of use.”
Scott:  How many volunteers do you use?
Myra:  “Most of the 250+ Cornish parishes have OPCs, we also have a band of non-OPC volunteer transcribers, the numbers of which vary, but rarely dip below 30.”
Scott:  Do you need more volunteers for OPC work and do you need to live in the U.K. to do it?
Myra:  “Yes, volunteers are always welcome. Our OPCs are located in most English-speaking countries of the world, so location is not a barrier.”
Scott:  What do you, personally, think the ‘next big thing’ might be in genealogy?
Myra:  “As long as Internet connections remain unthreatened, then the publication of images of actual documents is likely to continue, by the LDS, various National Archives and so on. These will include “other records” such as old School Registers.”
Scott:  Do you still spend time on your personal genealogy/family history?
Myra:  “Occasionally.”
Scott:   If you had a magic wand and could make one genealogy dream come true, what would that be for Myra Cordrey?
Myra:  “That “awkward” vicars/rectors would allow their parish records to be accessed for transcribing.”
Scott:  We all have our pet peeves.  What is your pet peeve with genealogy?
Myra:  “See no. 10, plus researchers who think that OPCs are anonymous beings, who don’t appreciate thanks for their unpaid time & efforts.”
Scott:  What is the most fun you have ever had with genealogy?
Myra:  “As with many other people, I enjoy the search for records, either individual ones or batches which are suitable for transcribing by our group. (The thrill of the chase?)”
Scott:  What have I missed that you would like folks to know about you, your work, etc?
Myra:  “Perhaps you could link to our About Us page?”
Scott:  LAST question …. Are any of the OPC founders still around and if so might one of them offer some insights on what their idea has turned into now?
Myra:  “All 3 founders are still around, 2 are still OPCs (Michael McCormick & Dave Stick).”
 Scott:  Thank you so kindly, Myra!  I have now linked your site with the Onward To Our Past Facebook page and our blog as well.  The OPCs are to be highly congratulated on a job well done! 
At Myra’s suggestion, I contacted Michael McCormick, one of the OPC founders …. I had two questions for Michael:  One, ‘Is it true the OPC idea was born in a pub?’ And two, ‘What do you think of what you created now?’
Michael agreed to visit with me on the birth and development of the OPC.


Michael McCormick:  The account of the formation of the OPC scheme is accurately described on the OPC web site.  You will find more information on my blog on http://medeschole.blogspot.com/.  Although you will have to look for it.  
The name I claim for myself; I thought of it on my afternoon walk thru’ Cornish lanes in and around the very small village I live in, in central Cornwall.  The three of us used to meet once a month in the Queens Head in St Stephens in Brannel because it was more or less equidistant for the 3 of us.  It was during the start up of the Cornish Census Project and one of the 3, Paul Brewer, was a big help to me in that project; most of the 1851 census transcripts were checked by Paul.  In the end, we all fell out and that was that.  The project only took on the shape I had in mind when Myra took over.  Not only has she achieved what her predecessors didn’t, she has developed it into a major family history project.
To appreciate what she has achieved, you have to cast your mind back to how things were in 2000.  No Ancestry; no online census transcripts; even the well known 1881 transcripts were only available on a £30 disc set with a rather odd software package.  The chairman of the CFHS was on record as opposing any electronic media, let online using the Internet.  During the OPC’s life, we have seen the rise of the commercial company sites and the expansion of the Mormon’s activities.  In spite of this, the Cornish volunteers have stuck to their self-appointed task.  Amazing.
To what do I attribute its success, other than Myra, I would say that we have resolutely stuck to it being a Cornish project for Cornish people and their descendants.  This was my line with the Census project and Cornwall is the only Free Census country with 100% coverage of the 19th century census returns.  Myra has stuck to this and it has paid off.”
Scott:  Thanks, Michael and I say congratulations on a job well envisioned and a job well done! 
I hope you have enjoyed this interview and use visit the OPC site.  It is well worth the trip!

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