Hunt to find heirs of Kettering village astronomer to feature on TV today

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A bid to track relatives of a Kettering village astronomer will feature on BBC’s Heir Hunters today (Tuesday).

Roy Panther died in October 2016 in Walgrave aged 90, with no will or known next of kin, leaving behind a £290,000 estate.

Gladys Faulkner.

Gladys Faulkner.

Roy discovered a comet, named Comet Panther after him, on Christmas Day 1980 after 33 years of searching.

But it was a search of a different kind by probate genealogists Finders International that found Roy’s cousin – Gladys Faulkner – just a short drive away in Daventry.

Gladys said: “We were taken by complete surprise when the phone call came, and you think this doesn’t happen very often, why should it happen to me?

“It was a total shock.

“To think that I had a relative like Roy, that I never knew or heard of.

“It’s odd to think Roy lived very close to me for almost four decades and I never even knew him.

“It’s a shame and I wish I had known him.”

Roy never married or had any children.

Further research revealed that Roy’s father, James, had been married three times but didn’t have any children from his previous marriages.

Efforts were then focused on the paternal side.

Roy’s paternal aunt, Mathilda Panther, led Finders International to an heir - Gladys.

Danny Curran of Finders international said: “In this industry we are always coming across unique cases and the case of Roy Panther was no exception.

“It’s great we can pass on the history of his astronomy successes to his family, who never even knew he existed.”

Gladys was one of 13 heirs to the estate.

The show is on at 11am today on BBC One and will then be available on iPlayer.