'can’t stop smiling' | 

Co Antrim woman’s joy as wedding ring recovered after nine years lost

Ballymena woman strikes gold after calling in father-and-son detectorists to search garden

Liam TunneyBelfast Telegraph

A Ballymena woman has been reunited with her wedding ring almost a decade after she lost it thanks to a metal detecting father-and-son.

Gillian McConkey contacted North Coast Metal Detectors Lost and Found after years scouring her garden since the February 2014 mishap.

“I was out gardening, pulling up the dead things. We had cut down a tree some time before and I was removing the stump,” she explained.

“I stuck the spade in and nearly broke it, but I landed on my back. The soil went flying everywhere because it sprang back on me.

“I had lost a fair bit of weight and was lighter than I am now and the ring was really loose. I never noticed it was off until I was in the house washing my hands.

“My heart just sank. Everybody hates losing things, but if I’ve misplaced something I will look until I find it.

“It’s your wedding ring, so there’s a lot of sentimental attachment too. I was gutted.”

Gillian and Wilson McConkey were delighted the wedding ring turned up after almost nine years

She hunted for it many times, but without success.

“I’d borrowed a metal detector a few years ago and I’d found a washer, it was actually really close to where the ring was.

“Just this year the neighbour had got a new metal detector and he came up one day during the summer and did the whole garden and didn’t find anything.

“It buzzed and beeped at different places but we didn’t find anything.”

Finally Gillian decided to get in touch with detectorists Andy and Ryan McCloy, who have been searching for missing objects on the north coast since 2020.

“When I contacted Andy and Ryan it was just on the off-chance that they were ever down this way and they could have a look for it,” she said.

“I had heard of them, I was following them on Facebook for a while, but I never contacted them because I thought I’d be wasting their time.

“On Wednesday night I sent them a message and they got straight back to me. They came out on Thursday morning and literally found it within five minutes of starting the search.

“They spent more time getting out of the van, gathering their metal detectors and shovels, than they did actually looking for it.

“My hands went to my face and I just cried. I just can’t believe that it’s there again. It’s really unbelievable.”

The ring was found within five minutes of Andy and Ryan's arrival

The find is the latest in a string of successes for the father and son team, who have been unearthing lost items all year.

“We just dug around the area she thought it might be and we just happened to find it, which is brilliant,” said Andy.

“The best thing about gold is that when you lose it, it comes out of the ground just like brand new. It stays the same, we just had to give it a wipe.

“We didn’t know how far down it would be, so we weren’t sure how long it would take, but we love helping out, that’s what it’s all about.

“At the moment we’re thinking of getting two new metal detectors.

“They are expensive but they will give us the best possible chance of finding what we are looking for.”

Gillian added: “I can’t stop smiling. I can’t believe they found it and found it so quickly.

“I thought they’d be there for hours scanning the garden, but they dug one sod up and there it was.

“My husband Wilson was in the house and he just couldn’t believe it either.

“He was aware when they had arrived, and the next thing I was calling him out and showing him.

“For it to have just been lying in the ground all that time is amazing. I keep pulling my hand out of my pocket and looking at it — I can’t believe it’s back on my finger.”

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