A crack team of Ipswich heir hunters is over the moon after scooping one of the industry's highest honours for the second year in a row.

Family-owned will sleuths Anglia Research Services - which was crowned Probate Research Organisation of the Year - has been finding missing heirs and uniting them with their fortunes since 1979.

This year, it took on a pro bono case - and found long-lost relatives of one of the last "Pilots of the Caribbean", Jamaican-born World War Two RAF airman Peter Brown.

When the former flight sergeant died in north London aged 96, he had no known relatives and the job of organising his funeral fell to his local authority, Westminster City Council.

A national public appeal resulted in a huge send-off at St Clement Danes, the "spiritual home" of the Royal Air Force.

Anglia Research Services boss Philip Turvey decided to put his company's expertise to good use and using his teams in Jamaica and in Ipswich unearthed three or four Caribbean relatives. 

It meant that among the mourners at the funeral ceremony were members of the Caribbean community, RAF servicemen, celebrities - and Peter Brown's Jamaican relatives who remembered him with fondness.

They visited him many years ago in London and accompanied him at a cricket match - a sport he very much enjoyed.

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"They had a lot of fond memories of him," said Philip, who attended the funeral in May. "It was extremely moving and a real mixture of different cultures with the RAF pomp and ceremony with the joyful side injected into it with members of the Caribbean community."

Another of the year's high points was in March when Anglia Research Services reunited Patricia Blythe with her long-lost Ipswich-born brother.

The business was started by Peter Turvey. He is managing director, Philip is executive director and his brother, Richard Turvey, is case operations manager.

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The business employs about 50 people across its three offices in Ipswich, Jamaica and Southport, which was set up as it is close the General Register Office which is often a starting point for the team's enquiries.

The bulk of the teams' work involves looking for lost heirs to fortunes after people die either without leaving a will or where those named in the will are difficult to trace.

They will often be instructed by solicitors or will carry out their work speculatively, as unclaimed estates are left in the hands of the Crown unless a relative is found and published on a "Bona Vacantia" list.

A growing area of business is tracing the owners of empty or abandoned buildings on behalf of local authorities. "With a national housing crisis, that's become an increasing priority," said Philip.

Judges at the awards event described Anglia Research Services as "an exceptional and impressive entry" from a business "who are clearly leaders in their field and can evidence a huge amount of accreditation and expertise”.

Philip said: "We are really pleased with it. We put a lot of effort into the work we do and it's nice to see that independently recognised and validated."

The company has featured in several TV series including Who Do You Think You Are?, The Empty Homes Scandal and A House Through Time and is due to appear in new prime time show on Channel 4 Key to a Fortune.

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