Wedding ring lost in rugby match turns up after 30 years

By Lucy Ibbotson

Simon Higgs 'almost threw out the ring' - but made an effort to track down the owners. Photo / ODT
Simon Higgs 'almost threw out the ring' - but made an effort to track down the owners. Photo / ODT

Mystery surrounds the movements of a long-lost wedding ring which recently resurfaced in a Dunedin garage, nearly 30 years after it went missing during a rugby match several kilometres away.

Ian and Pieternella Shore, who split their time between Dunedin and Wanaka, were stunned to receive an email from a stranger at the weekend, asking if they were the owners of a piece of jewellery they had thought was lost forever.

"I read it and I thought 'incredible, just incredible'," Mr Shore, 66, said yesterday.

A former member of the Pirates rugby club, Mr Shore recalls taking his 18ct gold wedding band off for a game of touch rugby at Hancock Park between 25 and 30 years ago and leaving it with his gear near one of the goal posts.

When he returned to the same spot after the game, the ring was gone.

He and Mrs Shore, 61, regularly searched the grounds for about a year - even hiring a metal detector to comb the field - before giving up and buying a replacement ring.

"When you lose it on a rugby ground it's going to slowly work its way into the soil or grass, never to be seen again," Mr Shore, a financial adviser, had always believed.

However, just over a year ago, Dunedin retail worker and freelance photographer Simon Higgs was cleaning out the garage space under the house he was renting - and subsequently bought - in Maryhill when he spotted the ring among some other scrap bits of metal and rubbish.

"I almost threw it out ... I had it in the dustpan and realised it was a different colour [to the other metals]," Mr Higgs said.

"I'm not sure how it got there but somebody found it and lost it all over again."

Mr Higgs took the ring to the Dunedin police, who "weren't interested" since it had been found in his own home and there was no record of anybody missing it.

He made other unsuccessful attempts to track down the person known only as Pieternella - the name engraved inside the ring, including contacting the previous owners of his house who knew nothing about it.

Since then, he had been wearing the ring to keep it safe.

"I didn't want to lose it because I knew it was important and I thought 'One day I'll find them'."

While the ring mystery had "popped up in conversation every now and then", it was not until a few nights ago when Mr Higgs' flatmate suggested another online search for the name Pieternella that they hit pay dirt.

This time, they found a website the Shores had set up last year for their Wanaka bed and breakfast accommodation.

"I have located a wedding band with the name "Pieternella" engraved inside it with a date, and you are the only Pieternella that I can find on google in the Otago region! Have you lost one??" Mr Higgs wrote to the Shores, through the website's contact form.

Mr Higgs was looking forward to returning the ring to its rightful owner in Dunedin next week.

"I dare say he's taken a bit of stick for losing a wedding ring over that time," he joked.

Mrs Shore has her own plans for the rediscovered ring once it is back in her husband's hands.

"I think we should get married again, I think we should re-do our vows."

- Otago Daily Times

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