Dawn's Story

Dawn was born in The Midlands, in the UK, but is proud to have a heritage from Orkney. Read more about why she got involved in the study here.

Black and white picture of Dawn Underhill's Father and Fellow RAF friend in Egypt in service.

I was born and raised in The Midlands, UK, but I’m immensely proud of my Orkney heritage. My dad was born on Stronsay, his family later moved to East Mainland, Orkney. During his RAF National Service in Egypt, he wrote to a young woman in Birmingham. On completion of his National Service, he left Orkney to marry his pen friend. Without that I wouldn’t exist. 

I love visiting Orkney, it truly feels like my second home. It’s a place I feel a strong emotional connection to, having visited for family holidays since I was less than a year old. 

My passion for my Orkney roots led me to research my family tree. Reaching back to the late 1700s, I discovered those early ancestors originated from Sanday. Some of my Stronsay ancestors emigrated in the 1800s to Canada and New Zealand. By chance, I bumped into a distant relative from New Zealand on Stronsay last year, in a cemetery! 

I watched Prof. Jim Flett Wilson’s Viking II launch lecture on YouTube earlier this year, and was totally fascinated. I was excited to learn that I could take part in the study. Later my sister also decided to sign up, it was useful working through the questionnaire together. 

I feel privileged to help with research relating to genetics and disease and to help the health of future generations. 

If you're interested in listening to Jim's talk, it's still available on YouTube. Click the link below to watch:

VIKING II Launch Lecture