Jane Ainsworth's second book - Keeping their Beacons Alight:The Potter Family of Barnsley and their Service to Our Country - is a comprehensive family history inspired by the surviving letters and other memorabilia of two young brothers who were killed in action in the First World War. It concentrates on the military service of many of their relations during the first half of the 20th Century.
Frank and Eddie Potter, sons of Barnsley Builder Charles Dalton Potter, featured in her first book published by Helion& Company in March 2016: Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War. This memorial book about the 76 men listed on the War Memorial includes a detailed history of Barnsley Grammar School. It received critical acclaim for Jane's meticulous research and use of school records to provide biographies for these well educated young men who were prevented from achieving their full potential. It emphasized their life stories within the context of their families rather than their military experiences.
Keeping Their Beacons Alight has allowed Jane to make full use of her painstaking and tenacious research skills to write the biography of the Potter family, with an emphasis on their military service. She has uncovered an impressive number of relations who joined the Territorial Army before 1914 and who served during the First and Second World Wars in a wide variety of roles.
Jane used her genealogical expertise to produce the extended family trees and consulted several relations, who generously shared information and photographs for use in this book; they were fascinated and surprised by many of her findings. She followed clues wherever they led, spending time searching the internet and going through collections of records to provide background information, such as Barclays Bank, Barnsley Cordwainers' Society and Freemasonry. She used War Diaries and Officer Records from The National Archives as well as visiting Regimental Archives and Museums to flesh out individuals' military service. Barnsley Chronicle provided a wealth of supplementary details.
The Potter family is an extraordinary one with their zealous response to the calls to arms, but Jane hopes that it will encourage others to delve deeply into their family history and reveal hidden gems.
Jane Ainsworth was born in Hoyland in South Yorkshire, but spent most of her life living elsewhere until she and husband Paul decided to return to Barnsley for their (early) retirement. Jane was brought up in Chorley, Lancashire, then went to York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English and Related Literature. She then worked for many years in the Housing and Social Services Departments of Councils in the Cambridge area. Jane's passionate interest in family history research has developed over the last 13 years with a growing fascination for local history and the First World War. When Jane decided to research the Barnsley Holgate Grammar School War Memorial for the Centenary, she had no idea how difficult it would be to identify then research the lives of 76 strangers. However, she was determined to pay tribute to these brave young men by finding out as much as possible about them all. Although she has written a number of published articles on various subjects, this Memorial Book is Jane's first book and it is the result of more than two years' dedicated and almost all-consuming research. These men and their relations so far discovered now feel like Jane's own extended family.