A chance conversation about whether a contestant on a TV talent show was a relative or not, led an Australian grandmother on a mission to trace her British roots back hundreds of years via the internet. The search took her across the world, and helped her unearth some amazing facts about her family, as well as about herself.
"It all started when I was watching a TV show called Australian Idol," said Christine Hyde, installed at her PC in her suburban home just outside Melbourne, Australia. "There was this one guy called Anthony Callea who got down to the last two, and I was amazed when my mother-in-law told me that he was a distant relative."
It wasn't long before the entire family was talking about their famous new relative. As news spread, the younger members naturally wanted more information about how they were linked to the hot, young star. As more and more questions were raised, Christine discovered that she was unable to supply any real details beyond her immediate grandparents.
"The youngsters were suddenly really interested in where they had come from, so they advised me that I should write down everything I knew as so much was lost when my father and father-in-law passed away."
Little did she know that the youngsters' thirst for information was to provide the impetus behind an internet quest that was to take over her life, and which she herself claimed was "the most amazing thing I have ever taken up."
The first stage in tracing her family roots began with a crash course in using the internet.
"I trotted off to the local library, learnt how to browse the internet and three months ago purchased my own package and am now online at home," she said.
Christine had soon mastered the finer points of how to browse web sites, and quickly discovered a site that was able to help her trace her relatives.
"I came across 192.com's Family Tree service which helps surfers to trace their ancestors in the UK," she said. "The instructions were easy to understand and the site was easy to use so I was able to start unearthing my family history straight away."
The secret behind the site lies in its vast database of information that lists details of everyone who lived and died in England and Wales since the middle of the nineteenth century.
The site contains information about births, deaths and marriages from 1837, which corresponds with the introduction of the General Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths. The database is searchable by surnames, dates and districts to give users the best chance of finding their ancestors.
Christine lost no time in tracking down her first pom relatives on her husband's side. Initial investigations quickly revealed that her grandfather-in-law, Frederick, was also a minor celebrity in his day. But rather than performing on a talent show, he was actually coachman to King George V.
"We have since found a photo of him in his regal uniform with a handwritten note on the back," she said. "We have also discovered many cuttings from newspapers documenting his history."
The family had always thought that Frederick had gone on to have four children, but 192.com proved that he actually had nine.
"I have since found the brother of my husband's grandfather and am now in contact with his granddaughter," she said. "That is where 192.com came in handy again with its peoplefinder service which enabled me to track her down using the Electoral Roll. We now write to each other on a regular basis and are good friends."
Her investigations also unearthed some sad family events. On the other side of the family, Christine discovered that one relative had come to an unfortunate end in India when the rickshaw she was travelling in overturned, and she fell into a coma for two weeks.
She recovered to see her family sitting around her bed in hospital and was told what had happened. She wanted to go home, but had to wait for the doctor's clearance. In a poignant twist, the family went home and two hours later received a phone call to say she had died.
But this brief cloud still has a silver lining. "I have become the greatest of friends with the wife of one of her descendants," she said. "We email daily and she is such a kind and wonderful person - I feel truly blessed to have met her."
192.com also helped Christine to pursue her quest for relatives in England by tracking down a name called Fritchley, which appeared on one of the branches of the family tree. She immediately turned to 192.com.
"I keyed in the Fritchley name in the Leeds area, hoping to find a link to the names I had on my family tree," she said. "One solitary name popped up on the search so I sent a letter outlining my mission and whether they could help me in my quest."
The letter soon paid dividends.
"Imagine my surprise when I received an email from the daughter of the person I had contacted," she said. "These relatives were the missing link in my genealogical jigsaw, and they have now enabled me to extend my search to Canada and the US."
The Canadian relatives also began to compile information for the extended family tree, enabling all the family members to pool information and fill in many missing pieces of data. But it does not end there.
"I recently received a phone call from Florida confirming the last link to this section of the family tree," she said. "Many more photos are now on their way for my family scrap book, with even more information and another family to add."
Christine has now got even more ambitious plans to develop her fascinating family tree following her investigations through 192.com.
"Our dream is to organise a meeting of all the relations that we have traced for a big get-together and photo session," she said. "It would be fantastic to have a record of it, as it will truly be history in the making."
Christine describes the search for her family tree as being a life changing event.
"I never dreamt that this hobby would take me half way round the world and put me in touch with so many wonderful people who have become lifelong friends," she said. "Thank you 192.com for making the impossible, possible."