Pot luck reunites pensioner with ring

What a blooming marvellous present for Bill and Phyllis Webster just before their 65th wedding anniversary - and it was down to a bit of pot luck.Mr Webster, the Norwich In Bloom ambassador, feared he had lost his cherished wedding ring which had not previously left his finger in six decades after it came off while he was helping pot thousands of plants.

By IAN CLARKE

What a blooming marvellous present for Bill and Phyllis Webster just before their 65th wedding anniversary - and it was down to a bit of pot luck.

Mr Webster, the Norwich In Bloom ambassador, feared he had lost his cherished wedding ring which had not previously left his finger in six decades after it came off while he was helping pot thousands of plants.

A task resembling looking for a needle in a haystack appeared to be on the cards at Hockering Nursery, near Dereham, until Mr Webster's fellow volunteer Andy Street came up with the idea of contacting his metal detector enthusiast friend.

And the loud shrill from the machine was truly music to everyone's ears yesterday morning as former firefighter Alan Womack quickly traced the gold ring in the soil of one of about 8,000 pots in a polytunnel.

"How wonderful!" exclaimed Mr Webster, 85, after getting a phone call to say the sentimental item had been found.

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"It cost about £50 and is simply a piece of gold but it means so much after all these years."

He and his 84-year-old wife celebrate their landmark anniversary on Wednesday and she said simply: "I'm over the moon."

They returned to the nursery yesterday to thank Mr Womack and owner Ian Harris and be reunited with the ring.

Mr Webster said that on Saturday he and other volunteers had been preparing the pots which go out to places around Norwich to brighten up the streets of the fine city.

"I was potting up and suddenly realised my ring was missing. I've never lost it before and it has never been off my finger. I suppose it was the cold soil which did it."

He had to return to his home at Earlham to break the news to his wife and nervously wait overnight to see whether the metal detection would prove successful or their special anniversary would be marred.

"I am living on hope this morning," admitted Mr Webster as he waited.

However, just a few minutes after the 10am start of the search and the great discovery was made.

Mr Womack said the machine had "sang out like a bird" as soon as it got near the gold.

Fortunately there was very little other metal around in the polytunnel and in any case Mr Womack knew it was the ring straight away as gold overrides other metals.

"I felt great when I found it and I raised my fists like a footballer does! It was a brilliant result."

The former leading fireman at the City of Norwich fire station said: "It is good news for the hobby. We get a lot of bad publicity from night hawks."

Ian Harris said: "It's fantastic news."

Norwich In Bloom use two of his polytunnels to grow the plants.

Mr Street said: "I have known Alan since 1963 when we were on Red Watch together in the old Norwich City Fire Service. He is a great guy and I knew he was the person to approach."

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