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Recluse who lived without electricity or gas leaves £250,000 windfall to 31 relatives he never knew

A 70-year-old recluse who was living without electricity or gas has left a surprise windfall of £250,000 to 31 relatives he didn’t know about. 

Richard Ticehurst was found dead in his dilapidated terraced house – where the top floor ceilings had collapsed – in Eastbourne, East Sussex last February without a Will and with little known about his family.

The local authority was tasked to arrange his funeral which is when genealogist firm Finders International – stars of BBC’s Heir Hunters – was brought in to research Richard’s family and background.

It was discovered Richard had an estate worth £250,000 and 31 relatives across five countries and three continents who are set to inherit a surprise windfall.

Distant relative Yvonne Fraser, who emigrated to Australia from Manchester in 1974, was one of the beneficiaries traced.

Distant relative Yvonne Fraser was one of the beneficiaries traced – here she is pictured with her son Darren and daughter Adele 

Richard Ticehurst was found dead in his dilapidated terraced house - where the top floor ceilings had collapsed - in Eastbourne, East Sussex

Richard Ticehurst was found dead in his dilapidated terraced house – where the top floor ceilings had collapsed – in Eastbourne, East Sussex

The search of Richard's house provided a glimpse into how he lived - which has been described as 'shocking to see'

The search of Richard’s house provided a glimpse into how he lived – which has been described as ‘shocking to see’

Ernest Ticehurst (with glasses) was Yvonne's maternal grandfather - he and Richard's father, Alfred Ticehurst, were brothers

Ernest Ticehurst (with glasses) was Yvonne’s maternal grandfather – he and Richard’s father, Alfred Ticehurst, were brothers

Speaking about the surprise money, the mum-of-two said: ‘It came out of the blue. I never knew anything about Richard; however, when Finders explained the connections it made sense.

‘I now understand that my mother Muriel Ticehurst, who died in 2019, was a first cousin of Richard.

‘So my maternal grandfather Ernest Ticehurst and Richard’s father, Alfred Ticehurst, were brothers. It’s just amazing.’

Tragically Richard died unlikely to have known about any of his distant relatives.

Emergency services were called to his house on February 3, 2021, although it was days before anyone had noticed he had not been seen.

He was pronounced dead in the house he had lived in since birth after his mother, Gladys, had left it to him after her death in 2000.

Emergency services were called to Richard's house on February 3, 2021, although it was days before anyone had noticed he had not been seen

Emergency services were called to Richard’s house on February 3, 2021, although it was days before anyone had noticed he had not been seen

Richard's house showed clear signs of self-neglect - there was no electricity or gas

Richard’s house showed clear signs of self-neglect – there was no electricity or gas

Danny Curran, from Finders International: said: ‘Part of our research often brings us to the property where the deceased lived to source key documents, such as a Will. The search of Richard’s house provided a glimpse into how he lived.

‘It was quite shocking and incredibly sad to see.’

Richard’s house showed clear signs of self-neglect – there was no electricity or gas and the ceilings on the top floor had collapsed. With no power Richard was known to function in the evenings with a torch light on his head.

According to local residents he was ‘sort of a recluse’ and ‘didn’t have any visitors’.

Despite the rundown state of his house and the very poor living conditions, Richard had in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in his estate.

It was quickly established by Finders International that he was an only child and had never married or had children.

His mother, Gladys, had also been an only child so the research team focused on his father Alfred’s side of the family and found a total of 31 residents in England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and America.

And while Richard was never able to meet his long-lost family, Yvonne is thrilled to have been reconnected with hers because of Richard’s estate.

She said: ‘I am totally in awe of how Finders traced me and indeed found us all, scattered throughout the world.

‘Not only have I lived in Australia for almost 50 years but I have also divorced and remarried so I go by a difference surname too.

Yvonne Fraser's grandparents Ernest Ticehurst, 22 and Eva Gladys Wood, 19 in 1921

Yvonne Fraser’s grandparents Ernest Ticehurst, 22 and Eva Gladys Wood, 19 in 1921

‘We’ve been lucky enough to reunite with some of the extended family. Some relatives have come out to visit us in Australia.

‘The gaps in our family tree have been filled in too – so it would seem that Richard ‘a recluse’ has managed in death to reconnect the next generation of his family.

‘It’s just a shame that we didn’t know Richard when he was alive, particularly as it seems he struggled living by himself.’

If no relatives had been discovered, the money would have gone to the Crown.

Finders International also revealed there is a staggering £3.3million waiting to be claimed – with 6,7000 cases still languishing on the government’s unclaimed estates list.

Danny Curran said: ‘Being a beneficiary to an estate of someone you didn’t know, or barely knew of, is more common than people expect.

‘Every year we reunite money with hundreds of surprised relatives.

‘If the estate isn’t claimed within 12 years it reverts to the Treasury. As of today we estimate a minimum of £3.3 million is waiting to be claimed. This is an astonishing amount of money.’

For more information about what Finders International do, visit: www.findersinternational.co.uk

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