As is usual at this time of the year, we at Finders International are reflecting back on what happened in 2016.
We had a great year. We were busier than ever finding the rightful heirs to estates and advising people of unexpected inheritances. We also worked on cementing our professional reputation. Our firm now has more members of the Association of Professional Genealogists than any other firm in Europe and we abide by their strict code of ethics.
In March, series 10 of Heir Hunters went out on the BBC and it covered more Finders stories than any other probate genealogy firm. Stories included that of the Desborough family. The Finders team investigated the military man’s estate. He had fallen in love and married an Italian girl while posted in Italy during the Second World War.
As the search widened to find his heirs, the investigation led back to the UK and the man’s childhood living in one of the UK’s earliest forms of social housing – the Peabody Buildings in the capital.
Our founder and managing director Daniel Curran has established himself as the lead spokesman for the probate genealogy industry – and 2016 saw more media appearances than ever before, 43 in total. Daniel appeared on ITV’s This Morning, talking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about the heir hunting industry in general. He also took calls from members of the public wanting to find out more.
On another occasion, Daniel joined four sisters who had only been reunited with each other in their 70s. The family had been split up as babies and toddlers, with two of the sisters adopted. Over the years, some of the sisters had met each other but it wasn’t until they were in their 70s that all of them met, thanks to Finders International. The hunt is still on for a fifth sister, Margaret Elizabeth, who was born on 28 May 1942.
The descendants of Francis Mitchell were reunited with the medal he was awarded during the First World War, thanks to Finders’ efforts.
Mr Mitchell died in 1953 and was survived by a wife and five children. A Victory medal nicknamed “Wilfred” was discovered at the Albert Docks in Liverpool on 6 June 2016. It was handed into the local police. The police searches identified who the medal belonged to, but they could not find Mr Mitchell’s family and they contacted Finders International.
Finders traced the family and the medal was given to one of Mr Mitchell’s grandchildren. The grandchild said he was very grateful to Merseyside Police and Finders International for all their efforts to reunite an important part of history with the family.
In 2016, Finders set up the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers. The IAPPR is aimed at providing a single, authoritative voice for industry professionals. It educates, informs, regulates and advises professionals, the public and anyone seeking experienced and reliable opinions. The IAPPR also gives consumers and clients recourse against rogue probate research firms.
We’ve had to double the size of our London office to cope with the added number of employees and work we have taken on in 2016. The offices were refurbished to top-notch eco standards to mark our commitment to the environment.
We have also supported a number of charities over the last year. Finders International is committed to corporate social responsibility. Our charity support includes the Dania School, a non-selective, co- educational Danish school in London for families who want a fully bi-lingual, multi-cultural education for their children.
In March of this year, we took part in Sport Relief. We held a penalty shoot-out and a sports-themed fancy dress day. And we continue to support the World Land Trust as part of our environmental policy.
There’s no doubt that 2016 was a busy year for Finders International. And What a year it was! We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.