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Albury pensioner reunited with his daughter after 51 years of searching

Albury Pensioner

An Albury man has been reunited with his daughter after spending 51 years apart in opposite hemispheres.

Katie Bergin was nine months old the last time her 24-year-old father Tony Brown saw her in London.

Mr Brown had a relationship with a 29-year-old friend – Katie’s mum – a fiercely independent woman who was taken to a home for unmarried mothers and asked to give up her daughter for adoption.

She vehemently refused and eventually gave birth to her daughter in Liverpool.

“She told me my dad’s name was Anthony Brown and he was originally from Wales,” Ms Bergin told 9NEWS.

The information proved to be little help in the search her father, who had served in the RAF, moved to Australia by 1975 and remarried.

A Facebook plea to find her father was spotted by Fraser Kinnie, HeirHunter UK who appeared on Family Finders, a BBC documentary, who told Ms Bergin her search would need to go far beyond the borders of the UK.

It took her 17,000km away to Albury, New South Wales, through the Australian contact number of Mr Brown’s mother.

Ms Bergin told the Border Mail when she finally spoke to her father “it was a flood of tears – we both couldn’t speak”.

“He said to me, ‘It’s like the moon and the stars have finally arrived back on Earth’, and that’s what it’s like,” she said.

Ms Bergin has stayed almost two weeks at her 77-year-old father’s home, and soon plans to introduce him to his 21-year-old grand-daughter, Grace.

HeirHunters turned Charity Hunters

HeirHunters turned Charity Hunters

A TEESSIDE charity initiative has said thank you to a kind donation from local business HeirHunter UK.

The two most recently completed the 874-mile stretch from Land’s End to John O’Groats by hitch-hiking rides, whilst completing a number of different challenges across the way.

Sarah Kinnie, Senior Probate Researcher at HeirHunter UK, said: “A soon as we saw the video of Alfie, it really touched our hearts and we knew we had to get involved. The work these guys are doing to raise money for his cause is amazing.

“We’re committed to supporting local charity initiatives such as this, and the donation was a complete no-brainer for us.”

HeirHunter UK works with solicitors and individuals to locate missing heirs across the country and has helped to get hundreds of thousands of pounds to the relatives of those who have died without leaving a will.

Sarah added: “Because our work is all people based, we really look to donate to such personal causes such as this. Just last year we took part in the Big CEO Sleep-out to raise money for local foodbanks, homeless shelters and the Salvation Army.

“As a business it’s important for us to be giving back not just to the local economy but in the community too. We’re actually in the middle of looking for an apprentice Probate Researcher at the moment.”

Sarah added: “It’s a great team and a brilliant opportunity for someone wanting to kick-start their career with us. We have nearly 200 claims we’re currently working through and are quickly becoming the first point of contact for many solicitors in the area because of the speed and efficiency of our work.”

To get in contact or learn more about HeirHunter UK visit: or contact Sarah Kinnie on 01429 874 548.


Hartlepool fundraisers back charity by sleeping on the streets

Staff from Hartlepool firm HeirHunter UK at the Big Tees Sleepout.

It was a freezing night but it did not stop these Hartlepool fundraisers from raising thousands of pounds as they slept – or at least tried to. Staff from town company HeirHunter UK proved they had warm hearts to go with their cold feet on a night of impressive backing for charity.

“We won’t change the world through the Big Tees Sleepout but we are helping to raise some money and raise the profile of an important issue” Andy Preston

They braved the freezing temperatures by sleeping out to help raise nearly £7,000 to fight local homelessness and poverty. They joined employees of RMB Auto and the local branch of Biffa for the chilly charity challenge. And they were among more than 50 fundraisers who took part in the eighth Big Tees Sleepout, which was organised by the charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.

The event was held on the pavement outside Middlesbrough College, and is the latest in a series of sleepouts which have been held over the past four years.

So far, the Big Tees Sleepout has raised more than £94,000 for worthy causes.

All of the funds raised in the latest sleepout will go towards supporting local food banks, as well as homelessness charities. It will also support Christmas appeals which are organised by the Salvation Army. Foundation chairman Andy Preston said: “I think we would all agree that homelessness and poverty should not exist on Teesside in the 21st Century, but sadly both are very real and affecting increasing numbers of local people.

“We won’t change the world through the Big Tees Sleepout, but we are helping to raise some money and raise the profile of an important issue.”

Mr Preston praised everyone who took part in the event for helping to back an important cause as well as putting up with horrible conditions.

He added: “Those who took part deserve massive plaudits for giving up their warm beds for a truly freezing cold night on the streets.” But now, the search is on for people to support the next fundraising event.

Organisers are hoping to hear from people wanting take part in the next Big Tees Sleepout in April next year.

Those interested should contact Mandy Shields by emailing or by calling (01642) 686018. The Ultimate ‘Making Your Nose Happy’ Shop The Ultimate ‘Making Your Nose Happy’ Shop It doesn’t matter if its big or small, we’ve got the perfect gift for her.

Heir Hunter launch solictors’ service

Experts have launched a new service aimed at quickly informing long-lost relatives about a loved one’s death.


Heir Hunter UK successfully answers 91 per cent of requests to trace missing next-of-kin and is now offering specialist help for solicitors dealing with unclaimed estates or wills.

The company is busy contacting nearly 160 legal firms throughout the North-East with full details of its service.

Among the features is the use of dispatch riders within 24 hours to collect birth or death certificates from registry offices in the region.

The Hartlepool business also has legal access to more than 100 million United Kingdom mobile and landline numbers and 50 million email addresses to assist its searches.

Probate Researcher Sarah Kinnie explained: “This all came about after a leading firm of solicitors in the region contacted us to help find next of kin and were so impressed with our service that we now work with them on a regular basis.

“Two other firms have since contacted us and now we are contacting 156 solicitors throughout the North-East who deal with wills and probate to see if we can help them.

“Not only do we have years of experience, we have access to the information and records which can trace people quickly so it is one less thing for solicitors to worry about.”

Heir Hunter UK, based at Hartlepool’s Queens Meadow Business Park, has traced hundreds of missing beneficiaries in connection with unclaimed estates.

Birth and death certificates are used to verify blood ties with estates without wills eventually distributed after the completion of a legal process known as probate.

Founded more than six years ago by Sarah’s parents, Fraser and Tracy Kinnie, Heir Hunter UK’s searches are not restricted to the United Kingdom and success stories include finding relatives as far away as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Sarah added: “We are the only probate research company in this region and it makes sense for us to work together with solicitors so we can locate the heirs to estates much quicker.”

Heir Hunter UK , whose expertise has featured on the BBC Family Finders television show, also specialises in reuniting long-lost relatives with each other.

Its workload is increasing so much that it expects its staff to increase five-fold to 50 by summer next year.

Many of the recruits will have benefited from a new partnership between Heir Hunter UK and Hartlepool College of Further Education in which students complete a work-based apprenticeship tailored to the company’s business needs.

The new specialist service for solicitors costs £100 plus VAT on completion of a successful search and more information is available by contacting Sarah on (01429) 874548 or by emailing



A mixed month for Tees Valley job announcements, particularly in the engineering sector where positive news from heating systems manufacturer, BMM Heaters, was followed by job losses at steel fabrication firm SBV Engineering.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its preliminary estimate of UK economic growth for the third quarter of 2016.  UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.5% in Q3 2016 (July to September) compared to the second quarter.

Regionally, the latest Lloyds Bank/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for business activity picked up to its strongest monthly rate for over a year.  However, whilst job numbers increased across England, growth rates remained subdued compared to earlier in the year and in 2015.

Reported Job Gains & Losses A mixed month for Job Gains & Losses
October saw a number of positive job announcements across Tees Valley’s private sector but further steel related jobs were lost.
Note that only stories reported in the press are reported. Trends can be affected by significant individual announcements. Developments outside the Tees Valley (e.g. in County Durham or North Yorkshire) are not included.
Jobseeker’s Allowance unemployment rate
The local JSA unemployment rate for September was 2.9%, the lowest rate ever observed for this indicator.  However, unemployment in the Tees Valley remains above both national and North of England (defined as a combination of NE, NW and Y&H regions) rates.
Employment growth rate slows Across the 12 month period July 2015 to June 2016 the employment rate for Tees Valley residents stood at 69.0% (representing 285,200 people), 0.2% up on the rate recorded three months previously. Over the past five years the Tees Valley has reduced the employment gap with both the North of England and the UK average to around 10,000 and 20,000 respectively.

Median gross weekly pay in 2016 Tees Valley pay still below national levels
ONS has released 2016 earnings data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. This shows that headline average (median) weekly pay for full-time employment in the Tees Valley (£496 per week) is around 92% of UK earnings. Tees Valley part-time earnings are typcially only marginally lower than the national average.
Engineering BMM Heaters, the Tees Valley air heating systems designer and manufacturer, is aiming to create seven new jobs as part of a £430,000 expansion.  The growing firm is looking for engineers and metal workers to bolster their existing 25 strong team and are relocating to Redcar as part of the expansion to bigger premises. The company is also planning to improve testing facilities, IT and storage in addition to investing substantially in research and development.  Their growth plan was supported by a £100,000 investment from UK Steel Enterprise, which is Tata Steel’s business-support subsidiary.
The Redcar & Cleveland-based steel fabrication business, SBV Engineering, has closed with a loss of 38 jobs after being hit by a significant drop in sales on the back of major customer SSI UK being liquidated last year. The firm supplied steel fabrication and associated services to the steel industry, as well as energy sectors including nuclear and oil and gas.
Recycling Hartlepool-based J&B Recycling has created jobs following a company restructure and a number of new contract wins.  The recycling firm, which in addition to a neighbouring site in Hartlepool, has a third facility in Middlesbrough, took on 18 new workers in the summer and has since recruited an additional 12 staff that will start in the coming month.
Business Services Stockton-based global transport payment company, Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), is set to create around 80 jobs over the next 12 months.  The company design and create payment systems that make travelling on public transport easier.  There are more than 24 billion transactions processed using Cubic software every year. CTS already employs 120 staff at the Stockton site, with around half of those engineers.
Wasley Chapman Chartered Accountants has expanded to Riverside Park in Middlesbrough, signing a ten year lease. Founded in 1918, Wasley Chapman has offices in Redcar, Guisborough, Saltburn, Scarborough and Whitby, catering to both private and public clients.  Since the expansion in June the firm has added four new members to the existing team.
Transport A £1m government-funded scheme that will improve transport links to Faverdale Industrial Estate in Darlington
has been announced.  The scheme, part of a wider package targeting access to one million square feet of business land in Faverdale, will improve the A68 at Rotary Way Roundabout and has the potential to create up to 5,000 jobs.
Retail Australian stationery store, Smiggle, has opened in the Hill Street Centre in Middlesbrough with the creation of eight new jobs.  The Smiggle brand came to Britain in 2014 and there are now more than 80 stores throughout the UK.  The business “where a smile meets a giggle” sells colourful and fun things that appeal to a younger audience – everything from backpacks to headphones, scented stationery, gadgets and gizmos.
Food manufacturer, Country Valley Foods, is launching a new cook shop.  The firm has turned one of their old office buildings into Chef and Baker, a new high-end cookware, tableware and giftware shop.  Chef and Baker, based at the company’s Billingham site, has created two new jobs and will sell a range of kitchen equipment used by professional cooks
Apprenticeships Hartlepool-based legal services firm Heir Hunter UK has partnered with Hartlepool College to help it grow its business through youth employment. The company, based on Queens Meadow Business Park, specialises in tracing missing beneficiaries to unclaimed estates and helps families track down long-lost relatives. Heir Hunter UK has enlisted the help of the College to help boost the workforce from nine to in excess of 50 by next summer.


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