Manchester heir related to Salford officer features on Heir Hunters

The death of a Bournemouth ex-red coat and ballroom dancing teacher, with a high valued estate, sparked a search for heirs that leads to a Manchester man, Trevor Jones. Trevor was on the cusp of inheriting when a will was discovered. The gripping story features on BBC’s Heir Hunters this week [Thursday 19 April].

The story of outgoing Gerald Bryce who passed away in July 2015 in Bournemouth where he lived for 30 years began when questions over the validity of his will resulted in his estate being listed in the government’s bona vacantia list.

As part of BBC’s Heir Hunters programme, professional probate genealogist firm Finders International decided to take on the risk of tracing blood heirs. Gerald never married, had no children or siblings and lived and his estate was worth £300,000.

Fellow Bournemouth man, David Medina, was friends with Gerald whom he first met in 1974. David also features on the TV programme saying that Gerald was a talented outgoing people person. David said: “We used to go on family holidays. Gerald loved performing, which he started at aged five, and this continued into adult life as a Red coat, working at Butlins when Des O’Connor was head red coat. “
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The Finders International team discovered that Gerald’s grandfather, John Jones, was a police sergeant in Salford. He married and had a child, Leslie, who also served in the police force and was actually involved in bringing Herbert Winstanley, dubbed the ‘King money forger’ to justice.

Leslie’s son, Trevor from Manchester, was identified an heir to Gerald’s estate.

Trevor Jones said: “I was surprised to have a phone call from Finders because they brought news of a cousin who I had not heard of for quite a while.”

Unfortunately for Trevor and the team, the Will had been eventually deemed valid.

Danny Curran of Finders International said: “For the team to get the result they did is very disappointing, particularly after all their hard work. However, we are all really pleased the Gerald’s final wishes will be followed through. What’s even better is that Trevor is interested in contacting his long-lost cousins.”

Trevor said: “Whilst it would have been good to receive something from Gerald’s estate, this has now motivated me to get in touch with cousins and keep regular contact with them.”

The episode is part of the latest Heir Hunter series on BBC TV and will air on Thursday 19, April after which it will also be available to view on BBC iPlayer.

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Background

ENTERTAINER, actor and producer Gerald Bryce died of cancer in Poole Hospital on July 19, aged 85.

He lived in Branksome Park for more than three decades, and was perhaps most well known for his role in a television advert poking gentle fun at ice skating legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.

Born in Withington, Manchester, in July 1930, Mr Bryce joked that his showbiz big break came when he was just 13 months old, when a professional photographer put his image in his shop window to drum up business.

He was a talented dancer from childhood, and at the age of five he would don a sailor suit to entertain audiences during family holidays to Llandudno.

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In his younger years, living in Blackpool, he took roles in musical theatre, and through this he came to the attention of ITV and Granada.

He performed in a multitude of television plays, such as Shadow Squad and Armchair Theatre, many of which were performed live, and later went on to work alongside Des O’Connor at Butlins in Pwllheli, North Wales, where he tutored holiday makers in tennis and ballroom dancing.

In the 1960s Mr Bryce was an entertainer on cruise ships, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to travel around the Mediterranean and meet the stars of the day, including Gracie Fields at her home in Capri.

When he came to Bournemouth he was a producer for Zaar International Films, a Lancashire firm which made short flicks for businesses, industry and tourist towns.

With his dancing skills and imposing height of six foot four inches, Mr Bryce was called upon for numerous adverts in the 1980s for firms including Heineken and ice cream brand Festini.

But the most famous of his ads by far was a parody of 1984 Winter Olympic ice dancing duo Torvill and Dean’s medal-winning display in Sarajevo, which caused quite a stir.

The ad featured a smart middle-aged man returning from work and whisking his wife (played by Joan Hall) around the parquet flooring in an extravagant version of the Torvill and Dean routine, accompanied, of course, by Ravel’s Bolero.

It was an unusual but eye catching way to promote the world’s first compact disc, unveiled that year by tech firm Philips.

Mr Bryce worked alongside Little and Large, Harry Worth and Ronnie Barker over the course of his later acting career, appearing in The Two Ronnies, Bread, Mansfield Park, Tales of the Unexpected and more.

His friends included talents as diverse as Jayne Mansfield and Joan Hickson.

He gained a reputation among friends as a joker and prankster, and according to good friend and fellow entertainer David Medina he was a real ‘ladies’ man’. However he never married.

He loved animals and was passionate about music, particularly the songs of Doris Day.(Bournemouth Echo, 2018)

Reference : Bournemouth Echo. (2018). Entertainer, actor and producer who mixed with the stars, Gerald Bryce. [online] Available at: http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/features/obituaries/13581075.Entertainer__actor_and_producer_who_mixed_with_the_stars__Gerald_Bryce/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2018].

Stories around the web

Bournemouthecho.co.uk : Butlin’s Redcoat Gerald Bryce died in 2015