PORT William woman Sheila McKie was absolutely astounded this week to be reunited with the gold locket she lost in the village 50 years ago – thanks to an eagle-eyed gardener.
Sheila, who has recently returned with husband Joe to live in “the Port” after a four-year break in Wiltshire, was amazed to be handed the heart-shaped locket she believed was lost forever in the garden of her parents’ former home at 21 High Street half a century ago.
The missing locket appeared in a sod of turf that had been lifted by the house’s present owner, Mike Hare, when he was levelling the back garden at the property last year.
Mike, who moved to the Port six years ago from Hartlepool, said: “Two summers ago, I decided I would level the garden and I was doing it a little bit at a time. I was putting the soil to one side and had just lifted a big lump into my barrow. I cut the turf off with a knife and stared bashing the soil when, suddenly, there was the locket. It was still so shiny.
“When I opened it up there were pictures of a man and a woman inside. I had it for about a year and during that time asked so many people if they knew who they were but no-one seemed to know. People said to me it must have been someone who had lived in the house.
“One day I showed the locket to John Kevan - a long-time resident of Port William - and he immediately recognised Mr and Mrs Murray (Sheila’s parents). I gave him the locket and he returned it.”
Sheila is still stunned to have the precious keepsake back in her hands. And she remembers quite clearly how she lost it.
She said: “My auntie Margaret had bought it for me and I was wearing it at a dance in Newton Stewart. But the chain broke and I put it in my pocket. At the time the fashion was dresses with great big patch pockets. The following day my mother washed my dress and hung it on the washing line upside down. When I saw it blowing in the wind out on the drying green I thought: ‘Aaagh! That’s my locket away!’ We searched and searched the grass but there was no sign of it.
“Then last week John Kevan told me about the man who now lives in number 21 finding a locket and that pictures of my parents were inside it. I told him that’s the locket I lost 50 years ago. It has my initials on the back ‘SAM’ – Sheila Ann Murray. I really thought I would never see it again.”
Still amazed and bemused by the turn of events she added: “All it needs is a new catch.”
Yesterday, Sheila met Mike for the first time to thank him for finding her locket – and the moment was captured by Galloway Gazette photographer Peter Foster.