As is traditional at this time of year, we’re looking back at what happened in 2021 – some of the fascinating cases we worked on, the events we held and the awards we accumulated, writes Danny Curran, founder and managing director of Finders International.
The year started from a challenging place – the ongoing pandemic and the strain it placed on our work and our lives. But we adapted as well as we could – running online events and webinars, working remotely and putting place new protocols and procedures to cope with the ongoing situation.
In 2021, we were announced the winner of the ‘Best Probate Research Firm’ at the UK Probate Research awards – the third year in a row we’ve received that award. In addition, we also received highly commended awards for ‘Probate Research Firm of the Year’ and ‘Best Use of Marketing & Social Media’ at the British Wills and Probate Awards.
Responsible business practices
We joined the Good Business Charter – an accreditation that UK organisations can sign up to in recognition of responsible business practices. The charter measures behaviour over 10 components: real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee well-being, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair taxes, commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment.
We’re now members of the Professional Deputies Forum and Continuous Professional Development members, meaning that anyone who attends our webinars and events can receive CPD certification for doing so.
Our ‘core’ work – identifying and locating heirs to estates – continued to fascinate and enthral us. Earlier this year, Nicola Turner contacted us, having found a mysterious chest when clearing out an annex of her late mother-in-law’s house. Despite Nicola’s efforts to trace the family to whom the chest belonged, she hadn’t been able to locate them, which was when she reached out to us.
The chest contained sketches, log books, passports and the diaries of RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Rex Goring-Morris. We tracked down the family of Flt Lt Goring-Morris and found his son, David, who later joined Nicola and Finders International’s managing director, Danny Curran, to discuss his father’s legacy on BBC London.
In another case, we searched for the beneficiaries to the estate of the late Alexander Thomson who had left behind a house filled with Asian treasures. At the start, it looked as if Mr Thomson’s heirs were his niece and nephew. However, our research found a teenage daughter in Indonesia who rightfully inherited his £400,000 estate.
We were also contacted in the case of the late William Page Mitchell, who had died in his Glasgow city centre flat in 2010, and the authorities had not been able to find any relatives to inform them of the news.
Our efforts uncovered a son, Andrew, 74, who hadn’t seen his father since his grandmother’s funeral 40 years ago. While the ex-RAF pilot did not have an extensive estate, finding out what had happened to him provided closure to his son.
Andrew told the Scottish Sun that he was grateful to the Finders team in Scotland for helping to close this chapter of his life.
When Reginald Aldham died in 2019, he left behind a £600,000 fortune. The Cambridge architect had no known next of kin and Finders International subsequently discovered 30 relatives who were entitled to a share in the estate. Reginald Aldham’s grandfather had been the butler to the Earl of Carnavon—the financial backer for the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Sir Captain Tom Moore’s family tree
Sir Captain Tom Moore, whose efforts to raise money for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in 2020, would have been 101 in 2021. The mark the occasion, Finders International investigated his family tree and sent the results to his daughter, along with the money we raised for his charity.
When we delved into the family tree, we were able to go back to the birth of his great-great grandparents in the 1790s.
We provided some 24 virtual training events to just over 1,400 attendees in 2021, all of which are CPD accredited, and donated to the Dania Scandinavian School, which moved to its new home, Curran House. Our two charities of 2021, Age UK and Young Minds received donations from our social events and feedback forms, and we’re now sponsors of Active Sports FC, which works alongside local authorities and schools to promote health and fitness.
All in all, I’m proud of our team and all that we have achieved in 2021, and all that remains for me to say is Merry Christmas everyone and all the very best for 2022.