A family history enthusiast who founded the world's best-selling British genealogical magazine has been honored with an award from royalty.
Michael Armstrong came up with the idea of starting a magazine about family history in the 1980s when he could find no magazines on the subject. "It was a hobby really and there were no family history magazines at that time. I went to a publisher in Peterborough, but they weren't interested - so the wife and I did it ourselves," said Michael, who ran night classes in the subject for Cambridgeshire County Council. The first edition of Family Tree Magazine appeared in November 1984. Circulation grew until it reached over 40,000 copies a month and sold in more than 40 countries throughout the world.
Now the 67-year-old and his Ramsey-based publishing firm, ABM Publishing Ltd, have been presented with the Society of Genealogists' Prince Michael of Kent Award for ”introducing family history to a wider audience over the past 20 years.”
Michael and his wife, Mary, have now virtually retired, and the company is run by their two daughters and sons-in-law, Helen and Darren Marriott and Janice and Darren Boon.
A founder member of Huntingdonshire Family History Society, Michael has researched his own family tree back to the mid-1600s, and is now planning to write up his family history. "It is something I wish my great grandfather had done years and years ago," he said. "A lot of people come into it when their mother and father have died and older relatives, but really it's too late then - you need to ask questions while people are still alive."
Sue Fearn, editorial manager at ABM, said, "Michael is very humble, and he feels that what he's done is just what anybody would do. He's not out for the praise and the glory, but, of course, it has come to him whether he likes it or not!"
Visitors to their premises at 61, Great Whyte, Ramsey, can browse a small reference library and get advice on how to get started with their research.