When my grandfather left the family tree, suitcase of documents and paraphernalia with my parents in 1982, as a child I remember poring over the names, photographs, newspaper cuttings and much more with great excitement. Never would they have imagined that their foundations would develop from a hobby into such an obsession for me in the future - indeed, now a professional career! Exploring my paternal ancestry, I discovered that all his forebears hailed from the West Country – in fact, more specifically, Devon – and when the rare Sillifant surname appeared twice in our family history, a surname study was born. For well over 20 years, I have been collecting all documents relating to every name bearer over history across the whole world, though with a greater emphasis on the colonies as the Sillifants are not exotic travellers! As Chair of The Surname Society, I am excited about developing surname studies in the 21st century using modern technologies and encouraging young people in the field.