A woman whose father was one of the founding members of the SAS has inherited a £140,000 estate from a relative she never knew.

Christine Mitchell, from Sporle, will have her story told in the BBC One programme Heir Hunters after she was traced by genealogist firm Finders International.

The team found that she was a distant relative of Eileen Ruth Holmes, who died in Colchester in 2017, aged 92.

Ms Holmes had left no will, her former two husbands had predeceased her and she had no children. Her only brother had also died in 1989 in a nursing home in Upminster and had no children of his own.

Her first cousin Charles Mitchell was one of the founding members of the SAS and his children, including Christine Mitchell, were identified as heirs to the estate.


Christine Mitchell was told about her surprise windfall when Eileen Holmes’s £140,000 estate was investigated by the team at Finders who took on the case from the Bona Vacantia list in an effort to trace any rightful heirs to the substantial estate.

Ms Mitchell said: “It was a real shock when Finders contacted me. Nothing like that has ever happened to me.

“I never meet Eileen but I believe I had met her brother, Billy Gardner, a cousin of my father’s, when visiting my grandparents as a child.”

With only half blood relatives on Eileen’s father’s side of the family, rightful heirs to the estate could only be found on the maternal side.

Eileen’s mother, Daisy, was one of nine children so Eileen would have potentially quite a number of cousins.

Ms Mitchell added: “While I didn’t know Eileen, her death and the involvement of Heir Hunters has opened up a whole family history that I only knew parts of.

“What I have now learned about my father’s military history in the SAS is quite mind-blowing. I never knew he was such a hero.”

Danny Curran of Finders International said: “This was a very successful case for the team.

“It is wonderful to have traced down the rightful heirs to Eileen’s estate and even better that Christine and all her relatives have now a full family tree and lots more information on their own heritage and history.”

Her story will be shown as part of the latest Heir Hunters series on BBC One at 11am.

This article has been first published in Eastern Daily Press

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