Fife couple reunited with beloved jewellery binned by mistake and taken on a journey in Northern Ireland
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Retired schoolteacher, Kathleen McKimmon and husband Eric, from Cupar, had planned a relaxing trip across the Irish Sea earlier this month.
But it ended in near disaster when, unknowingly, Eric put six necklaces, three rings and a charm bracelet, in a waste bin.
The collection was of huge sentimental value, and they feared it had been lost forever.
Incredibly, they got it back when a team of workers at a waste management plant literally got on their hands and knees - and found the bag as the couple waited to board their ship back to Scotland.
Kathleen said, “We were looking forward to our post-Christmas trip to Northern Ireland, visiting friends and family, as well as finding out more about my husband’s family history.
“As a result of a break-in at our home a few years ago, where my complete jewellery collection was stolen, I took it with me, disguised in a plastic bag.
“Following a trip to Belfast from where we were staying in Omagh, we made a stop at Sprucefield, where my husband offered to dispose of the litter – which included the plastic bag, without realising its contents.”
The loss only came to light the following morning when Kathleen realised the jewellery wasn’t in the car.
After a frantic search, the couple realised it had been thrown out during their stop at Sprucefield.
Kathleen continued, “We drove back to Sprucefield to see if there was any chance of retrieving the jewellery but as expected, the bins had been emptied.
“At this stage, I had lost all hope of ever being reunited with my jewellery collection again.”
The jewellery had already begun a trip round Northern Ireland before reaching the waste process facility run by RiverRidge in Mallusk.
The company - Northern Ireland’s leading waste management company - said it was very rare to recover anything that had been accidentally thrown out.
But, Pamela Jordan, senior commercial manager at RiverRidge, said: “ I knew how distressing this must have been for her.
“We always try to accommodate as best we can though, and after contacting our operations manager at the Mallusk facility, Danny McErlain, the team got to work – literally on their hands and knees seeing if any of the jewellery could be recovered.”
The couple were waiting to board their ship at the ferry port when they got news the bag containing the jewellery had been found.
Kathleen said: “I couldn’t believe it, I was elated.
“I am so grateful to everyone who helped out along the way – from the team at M&S Centre, Sprucefield, to Pamela, and all the team at RiverRidge who went above and beyond to retrieve the jewellery. Everyone was so incredible.
“We hear so many stories about unhelpful people and poor customer service, but rarely about the good.
“On this occasion, nobody could have been more helpful, comforting and reassuring. My sincere thanks to everyone who was involved.”