- The ring slipped from Allen Wilding's little finger as he cleared up a neighbour's garden in 1993
- He spent weeks hunting for the treasured keepsake which belonged to his father but believed that it was lost forever
- Then the new occupant of the house discovered the ring while digging a rose patch nearly two decades after it was lost
By Damien Gayle
PUBLISHED: 07:17 EST, 15 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:44 EST, 15 January 2013
A retired gardener was reunited with a gold ring inherited from his father which he lost two decades ago after his neighbour dug it up in her back garden.
Allen Wilding, 65, was heartbroken when he lost the 18 carat gold pinkie ring while clearing a neighbour's garden just months after his father Leslie's death in 1993.
Mr Wilding, himself a father of one, hunted for weeks for the treasured keepsake which had been his father's favourite piece of jewellery.
Unearthed: Allen Wilding in the garden where his father's ring was found 20 years after he lost it
Treasured: Mr Wilding was given the ring by his mother after his father's death in 1993
The ring had fallen off his finger while he cleared a garden belonging to his neighbour in the tine village of Eardisley, near to Hereford.
Believing it the ring be lost forever, he gave up hope of ever finding it and moved to a new house in the village following his divorce.
But just before Christmas, his friend Claire Morris, 52, who had moved into the neighbour's house, revealed she found the ring eight months earlier while digging a rose patch in her back garden.
Dashing: The ring was a favourite of Mr Wilding's father, Leslie, pictured here in uniform during the Second World War. His ring is circled
Mr Wilding has now been reunited with the ring, which remains in perfect condition despite having spent the last two decades sealed beneath the earth.
'It's wonderful to have the ring back. When my father died in 1993 my mum gave me his pinkie ring as a memento because he wore it all the time,' Mr Wilding said.
'I needed to get it enlarged because my fingers were bigger than my father's but it must have weakened the band because while I was clearing my neighbour's garden a few months later it just came off.
'I was absolutely gutted and searched the back yard for weeks but I eventually gave up thinking the ring had gone forever.
'It hadn't really crossed my mind since then but on Christmas Day night I was having a drink with some friends and they asked me about a little metal box which was on my shelf.
'I told them I'd found it in my back garden and Ralph then piped up "that's nothing, Claire found a gold ring a few months ago."
'A shiver went right up my spine and I drew a sketch of how I remembered the ring that I had lost all those years ago.
'I just said to him, "My God I think that could be mine," and I drew the design of the ring, which has a Griffin on it, and he said it was the same ring.
'Claire rushed across the street to her house and brought it back to my house and gave it back to me, I was incredibly grateful and amazed it has turned up after all this time.'
Mr Wilding turns the earth in the flower bed where the ring was found: His neighbour Claire Morris found the ring while digging up beds in advance of planting roses in her back garden
Mr Morris, 56, a firefighter, said: 'At Easter Claire was digging a flower bed up to make way for a rose bush and spotted this gold ring.
'She kept it in her jewellery box and forgot about it until Allen said it could be his. We're delighted we could reunite him with it.
'There was even talk about selling it because it is such an unusual piece - but we're very glad we didn't now.'
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