Meet the Team

The Charity

Colin McFarlane

Founder, Director & Trustee

Colin McFarlane is the founder, director and trustee of Making History and has worked tirelessly to turn his idea into a reality whilst continuing with the day job! He was recently on our screens as a ghost in Dr. Who, as a French Cardinal in BBC1's Father Brown and Egeus in BBC1’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, part of the Celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary.  Colin is a noted theatre actor and director; recently appearing in the award winning Fences in the West End with Lenny Henry and in last year's celebrated Pinter at the Pinter season.

Recently, in recognition of his popularity with children, Colin became Chancellor of Lincolnshire Children's University. Younger children know him for his wide range of voices on Little Princess, Zack and Quack, Mike the Knight and Peppa Pig.  Adults will know him as Commissioner Loeb in Hollywood blockbusters Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and the Conductor in The Commuter with Liam Neeson. On the smaller screen, Colin is Ulysses in the long-running TV series Outlander, is the voice of The Cube as well as his recent appearances in EastEnders, Coronation Street, Death in Paradise, Citizen Khan, Plebs, Casualty and classics like The Fast Show, Judge John Deed, Jonathan Creek, Jeeves & Wooster and Torchwood.  He is also the voice of Mr. Muscle!

A graduate of Loughborough University, he has an Honorary Doctorate from Bishop Grosseteste University for his services to the Arts. 

For Colin this project is a labour of love.

John Dargan

Director & Trustee

John brings substantial financial, technology and management experience to the leadership team. He has over 30 years of experience in strategic and financial management, business development and mergers and acquisitions in media, technology and financial services. Companies where John has worked include Warner Bros., the London Stock Exchange, GE Capital and McKinsey & Co. He is also a co-founder of CoderDojo South Bay, a volunteer-led computer coding club for kids in Los Angeles.

A Fulbright scholar, John has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business. John also holds a Bachelor of Computer Engineering degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and he jointly holds several patents in the media and technology space.

Peter Weiss

Director & Trustee

Peter is a corporate and commercial lawyer with Simons Muirhead & Burton LLC, with particular expertise in advising on corporate finance transactions, working with founders, agents and talent and negotiating UK-US transactions. He is ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers and his clients value his guidance and his ability to help them resolve complex issues.  Peter jointly heads up SM&B's Corporate, Commercial and Finance Team. He works with a wide range of clients from those in the media and fashion industries, to start up and established tech companies and international private equity houses.

Peter has a strong commitment to social justice and corporate social responsibility projects, and is actively involved in helping with a number of organisations and charities, including as a trustee of Making History, Sport England subsidiaries, and Spring Impact.

The Experts

Dr. Nick Barratt


The face of the BBC hit 'Who Do You Think You Are?' when it first began. As well as being a leading player in the family history world and the author of many books, he is the Associate Director of Collections and Engagement for the School of Advanced Studies, University of London and recently worked at the National Archives in London. Nick has recorded video introductions with Colin to accompany the school lesson plans that will guide the schools through the project. He will be visiting schools and working closely with the Lincoln Archives across the project.

As well as working as a presenter, Nick is a prolific reviewer and commentator on all aspects of history, notably family history. He has worked with a variety of companies, celebrities and TV presenters often compiling their family history. From Richard Bacon to Richard Hammond, Victoria Beckham to Catherine Zeta Jones, Nick’s research has been used for all features of publicity.

Geoff Young

Family Historian - London

Geoff is an experienced and respected project manager, researcher and multi-disciplined consultant with a strong heritage in the information technology industry spanning over thirty years. A keen genealogist, he serves a portfolio of family history research clients through his family history research and consultancy practice, Microgenealogy. A member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), Geoff has an Honours Degree in Chemistry from the University of Leicester.

Kate McFarlane

Family Historian - Lincoln

In 1984 Kate established her own business, KM Associates, publishing specialist magazines, newspapers and tourist guides and running a graphic design studio. In more recent years she has worked on a project basis for a variety of firms, focusing on rebranding and new product launches. She has also worked as a volunteer with the Young Enterprise Programme (for A Level students in Lincoln), and with the Pelican Trust, which supports people needing help for a variety of reasons.

She is passionate about Making History and is now not bad at building family trees, having helped over 250 children build theirs in this year’s cohort. She says: “If you can move children forward in their lives, even just a little bit, it’s a privilege and a pleasure”.

Neil Fraser

Genealogist & International Probate Researcher

A partner in Fraser and Fraser, the probate team famous for their detective work on BBC TV’s ‘Heir Hunters'. The BBC daytime hit has been running for 9 years. Neil and his 60 strong staff will be providing key research support to the students in their family history research as well as personally visiting all the participating schools.

Fraser and Fraser is a team of leading genealogists and international probate researchers, dedicated to tracing missing beneficiaries to unclaimed estates. With over 90 years of experience, they assist the legal profession with every element of estate administration.

The Supporters

Britannica Digital Learning

Cultural Research

A global digital media company with products that promote knowledge and learning, Encyclopædia Britannica provides timely, relevant, and trustworthy information and instructional products for homes, schools, universities, libraries, and workplaces around the world.

Digital resources with the quality you trust - Tap into the knowledge of experts from around the globe, including historians and Nobel Prize winners. Add in Britannica’s in-house editorial proficiency and fact checking. Combine with the experience of curriculum specialists, educators, and professional developers of innovative technology products. The result is high-quality, standards-aligned, award-winning resources that make teaching and learning more effective.

Widely recognized as the ultimate reliable source for fast facts or deep research, Britannica also offers supplemental curriculum resources for language arts, science, social studies, and math, all accessible in the classroom, from the library, or at home.

On demand, on any device, wherever learning takes you.  Using Britannica on interactive whiteboards, tablets, smart phones, and computers makes it easy to share resources, exchange ideas, and create something new for students. Britannica Digital Learning helps educators transform learning to reach every student’s true potential.

Elsium Solutions Ltd

Apple and Educational Specialists

A team of Apple education trainers have guided the students on how to make the most of their iPads, giving teachers an overview of the pedagogy behind the project and providing them bespoke training on iMovie to make and edit their films. They are led by Apple and educational specialist David Kirtlan and Lois Mee from Elsium, who have provided technology and educational support/training for all of the schools. 

With extensive experience in all areas and levels, both in the private and public sectors, Elsium sets the standards in the education and training services sector, delivering bespoke and accredited courses to support institutions, companies and individuals in reaching their full potential. 

Elsium is the Education Partner to a wide range of organisations from schools to corporate clients; including large corporate companies, heritage organisations, charities, mental health services and more, with national and international experience in providing popular, relevant and informative training courses and seminars is broad in both expertise and geographical reach, with recent presentations throughout the UK, Moscow, Dubai and Istanbul. 

Elsium's education and teacher training courses and seminars are for anyone working in the education sector; from EYFS to Higher Education, SLT and Governors. Elsium also provides student workshops, working directly with learners and students. All of the Elsium education delivery team come from a teaching background, each with a specific area of expertise. Elsium iPad courses are delivered by Apple Distinguished Educators and Apple Professional Development Consultants. 

Elsium prides themselves on providing an innovative and 21st Century approach to delivery, implementing the latest approaches to engage, encourage and inspire.


Findmypast is a world leader in online genealogy. It has an unrivalled record of online innovation in the field of family history and 18 million registered users across its family of online brands, which includes Mocavo, Genes Reunited and The British Newspaper Archive amongst others. Findmypast is providing exclusive access to their comprehensive world history database. Joyce Martin, JCS Online Resources, said of the project:  "From the moment Making History approached JCS for access to Findmypast I was captivated by their project. It was clear to me that this was a unique and groundbreaking project for schools and the heritage sector, with the ability to move, inspire and empower children and their families. By turning these stories into films they will leave behind an enduring legacy to enrich and enthrall us all!"


Principal Family History Sponsor

MyHeritage is the Principal Family History Sponsor for the project. They have provided exclusive access to their family tree building platforms and database of more than 6 billion historical records. 

Laurence Harris, Head of Genealogy (UK) at MyHeritage says: "We are delighted that we have been able to help the pupils to research their family history, and create their own family trees. The surprised and delighted look on their faces, when they discovered new relatives and ancestors, was just amazing. This proves that family history can be made relevant, personal, and exciting for the younger generation." 


Graphic & Web Design Agency

Optima are a true full-service graphic design agency based in Lincoln, UK with a local, national and international client base.  They work hard to build true partnerships with their clients and to understand their long-term needs. Clients come back to them again and again because they trust their business expertise and creative solutions. 

Simon Shaw returned to Lincoln and launched Optima in 1995 with a background strong in corporate identity built from working in large London agencies. Optima was set-up with the aim of creating the strongest full-service agency in the region. Optima’s mission has always been to provide clients with creative, original and innovative designs which not only meet their requirements, but surpass their expectations. 

Optima have continually invested in training and recruiting professionals to the team to enable them to offer solid, practical and exciting solutions. In addition to their design skills they also ensure their technical knowledge is current, to enable them to create solutions which conform to current legislation and industry standards. They work closely with their clients and suppliers to create bespoke solutions which are tailored to their requirements rather than adapting ‘off the shelf’ products. 

All this can be complemented by website and exhibition work to offer a truly complete service.

Simons Muirhead & Burton


Established in Soho in 1972 as specialists in civil liberties, music and criminal law, Simons Muirhead & Burton is now a multi-disciplined law firm offering clients advice and representation across a broad range of legal service areas. 

Based in Soho where they offer clients an accessible, responsive, efficient service.  A mixture of homegrown stars and ex-City practitioners, all of whom combine to provide a first-class service to our clients, they have an excellent reputation for work in the media sector (both contentious and non-contentious matters), employment, crime, property and commercial and corporate law. Through their specialist expertise, and perceptive outlook, they have a strong reputation that stretches internationally. 

SMAB was the first UK legal practice to establish a dedicated pro bono team focusing on human rights issues; that team, the Death Penalty Project, has since won multiple awards for its work.

University of East London

Media Support

The University of East London is a vibrant university with a vision to bring transformational academic and enterprising opportunities to those in our region.  They seek to do this through diversity, partnership and excellence in teaching and research. They’ve been educating individuals since 1898 and are now one of the most diverse universities in the UK, with more than 120 nationalities represented on their campus.

With £450 million new facilities, world-class teaching and research, and great social life, it's no wonder they've got some of the highest student satisfaction ratings around.

What's more, their courses are firmly rooted in the real world - you can work on community projects in London and abroad as part of your studies.

University of Lincoln

Evaluation & Media Support

The University of Lincoln is a place of high ambition, an institution whose progress since it was created in 2001 has been rapid and solidly grounded. Seeing itself as a 21st century expression of the old university ideal – where the student focus is paramount – at the same time as fulfilling the modern tasks of knowledge creation and transfer for the economic, social and cultural benefit of our society. 

At Lincoln we believe all our students deserve the best quality courses that will equip them to be successful citizens in a globalised world. They deserve the most modern methods of teaching and learning and up to date facilities on all our campuses in Lincoln, Hull, Holbeach and Riseholme. We are working to continually improve these facilities providing a fitting home for our vision of a university rooted in traditional values but directly relevant to the questions and challenges of our age. 

The University has come a long way in a short time. Our staff, students and alumni are all proud of our achievements and are looking forward to an excellent future based on growing our entrepreneurial spirit and desire to find new ways of working relevant to our ever changing society.

The Celebrities

Jim Broadbent

Academy Award & BAFTA-winning Actor

Born in Lincoln, Jim Broadbent is one of Britain's most recognisable character actors.  He was a Celebrity Mentor and chair of the Making History Judging Panel in 2011.  "I've become increasingly interested in history and how much we can learn from it and how much we learn from it about other people and other cultures and about ourselves and Making History is a really direct way of involving kids at a great age in history." 

Miriam Margolyes


Miriam Margolyes, OBE is a veteran of stage and screen, an award-winning actress who achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic.  Born in Oxford to an English mother and Scottish father, and growing up in a jewish family, her ancestors migrated to the UK from Poland and Belarus.  And she lives part of the year in Australia, where she has recently become a citizen. A Making History Celebrity Mentor, Miriam believes that "It is so important for kids to know who they are, what they come from, what's made them who they are.  What seeds there are in their background that might push them towards a certain job or a certain direction. Those are the kind of things that inspire people."

Shaun Parkes


A RADA graduate, Shaun is a versatile movie, TV and theatre actor.  From classic teen films to big-budget Hollywood flicks, from serious dramas to comedies to iconic Doctor Who, he’s done a little bit of everything. He’s been a pirate, a pilot, the captain of a spaceship.

Shaun believes that "There are some people who have an understanding of themselves and their cultural heritage, and then there are those who don't really have an idea of their family tree".  He has been involved with Making History since its beginning and visit schools to encourage and inspire children.

Shobu Kapoor

Actor and Star of East Enders & Citizen Khan

Shobu Kapoor is a British actress of Indian descent. A current Making History Celebrity Mentor, Shobu thinks: "... the Making History project is invaluable.  I could already see in the children’s eyes and by what they said that they were going to go home and pester their families for stories about their past, their relatives and their home countries.  Hidden stories will bubble up and the ripple effect will go far and beyond the children’s immediate families into the wider community.  The Making History project is creating a vast cooking pot of stories for all of us to share.  Keep finding your stories.  They are fascinating!”

Our Sponsors

Gelder Group

Gelder Group, Head Office, Tillbridge Lane, Sturton By Stow, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN1 2DS

Linkwave Technologies

Linkwave Technologies Ltd, Unit 18, Witham Point, Wavell Drive, Lincoln, LN3 4PL

Magna Accident Services

MAGNA Accident Services Ltd
Tillbridge Farm

Sun-hat Villas & Resorts

Sun-hat Villas & Resorts
Greetwell Place
Lime Kiln Way

The Lincoln Hotel

The Lincoln Hotel, Eastgate, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN2 1PN