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Bride's big day is saved

PUBLISHED: 07:04 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

Plans for a dream wedding turned into a nightmare for one Norfolk couple - until local police came to a timely rescue.

Plans for a dream wedding turned into a nightmare for one Norfolk couple - until local police came to a timely rescue.

When Matthew Penson's fiancée Shelly Vanden-Ecker discovered her car had been broken into on Tuesday morning, she was at first relieved to find her stereo intact.

Then the 25-year-old, from Townlands, Gorleston, went into the boot and found that dozens of items of clothing for her seven bridesmaids had been taken - just two weeks before her wedding.

Gone were seven pairs of shoes worth £150, handbags, necklaces, tiaras and earrings, all of which had been in her car following a fitting the previous night.

But as Miss Vanden-Ecker hit the local media in a desperate attempt to save her big day, a trainee police support officer just two weeks into his job came to her rescue.

After conducting house-to-house inquiries around Gorleston, PCSO Martin Chapman was hailed by a passer-by who handed over a bag of pink and ivory wedding accessories.

And just hours later, Miss Vanden-Ecker was reunited with her gear during a grateful meeting at Yarmouth police station.

"I was upset, to say the least, when I found them missing," she said. "I thought, 'I'm getting married in two weeks' time and this is the last thing I need'.

"There was a lot going on and I was in shock. Fortunately, my fiancé is the laid-back one and he kept me calm or I don't know what I would have done."

The Next shop assistant said she didn't think she would get any of the property back and was heading into Yarmouth and Norwich yesterday to start buying replacements when she received a call from police.

Miss Vanden-Ecker added: "When he rang me and said he had found my property, I felt such a wave of relief. It was the end of the nightmare, and gave me a chance to relax before my hen party this weekend."

PCSO Chapman said it was nice to have a happy ending to a job so quickly after starting his training.

"As I was driving through Gorleston, a chap ran over holding the bag up in his hand," he said. "I pulled over and he handed it to me, said he had found it in the underpass under the A12 and hoped I could return it to its rightful owner.

"It's fantastic that we found the property so early on and were able to reunite it with its rightful owner.

"That's what my job is all about, getting into the community and providing the link between residents and police officers.

"It's particularly pleasing for me that this has happened so soon after starting the job, it's very rewarding. I'm glad we can provide a happy ending - now we just wish Shelly and Matthew well for the big day."


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