Kind strangers save couple from holiday ordeal at Ranworth
Young couple Matt Clarke and Rhian Pearce were thrilled to climb on board a Broads boat at Stalham for their first holiday together.
However, their excitement quickly turned to despair when they arrived in Ranworth for their first night – and lost the boat keys overboard.
It could easily have spoiled their whole week's holiday, but thanks to the spirit of staff, regulars and holidaymakers at the village's Maltsters Inn, it turned into a night to remember.
Mr Clarke, 19, an engineer, from Clowne, near Chesterfield, said: 'We had just put our mud weight down in Malthouse Broad and locked up, leaving our phones and everything inside the boat.
'I was standing on the outside of our boat, Symphony 2, when the keys slipped out of my hand and quickly sunk in the water.'
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Rowing their dinghy to the pub for help they were overwhelmed by the kind response which Mr Clarke said they would never have had back home.
He said: 'Someone from the pub came back with us to see if they could get in the boat, and when they could not, they quickly found the number to ring the boatyard, Richardson's.'
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While they waited for help to arrive in the shape of Lee Clark, armed with a tin of spare keys, they were treated to free drinks, while a fellow boater even offered them a cabin for the night if it became necessary. Mr Clark arrived inside 40 minutes and did not even charge a call-out fee.
Landlord Roy Hunt said: 'When the young couple came in on Monday night they looked absolutely devastated and heartbroken.
'They had left absolutely everything on the boat.
'I said, 'have a few pints free while you are waiting', and it turned into a great demonstration of community spirit with everyone wanting to help.
'I called Richardson's and their response was fantastic.'
After a celebration in the pub, Mr Clarke and Miss Pearce, 18, a performing arts student in Chesterfield, returned to their boat unable to believe their good luck.
She said: 'Everyone has been great. I really can't think of a more fantastic night.'
Mr Clarke said: 'What a great story to tell our children and grandchildren.'
Greg Munford, chief executive of Richardson's, said: 'Our team strives to deliver excellent customer service and it's great to hear a story like this where everyone pulls together.'