When Wirral NHS worker, Angela Kipling, accidentally flushed her wedding rings down the loo she feared they were lost forever.
Luckily for the 51-year-old medical secretary, from Eastham, her husband Carl contacted United Utilities to see if it could help.
Carl, 49, said his wife was distraught when she realised what had happened. “Angie has been working long hours in a cancer centre and was tired and distracted. When she was cleaning the bathroom she took off her rings and placed them on the side,” says Carl.
“I’d bought her the rings when we renewed our vows recently after 25 years of marriage and they are very precious to her.
Angela and Karl Kipling on their wedding day
“Unfortunately, our two German Shepherd’s decided to come into the bathroom while she was there and shred some loo paper. Angela mistakenly picked up the shredded paper with her rings then proceeded to flush it away.
“When she realised what she’d done she called me straightaway. I took the loo apart to look for them and checked the manhole but they were nowhere to be seen. In desperation I contacted United Utilities to see if it could help,” he adds.
When United Utilities’ Matt Kelsey heard how upset hard-working health worker Angela was at losing her precious rings, he wanted to help. Matt sent two of United Utilities’ own key workers, super sewermen, Lee Timmins and Graham Jones, to see if they could put their specialist sewer knowledge to work and recover the rings.
Matt says: “When I heard that Angela worked for the NHS I decided that it would be nice to show our appreciation for all the amazing work people like Angela are doing and do something special to help.”
Lee and Graham sent a camera down the Kiplings’ sewer but couldn’t see anything sparkly as it travelled along the pipe. What they did see though was a bend in the pipe as it travelled under the drive. After getting access to this part of the pipe they sifted through the debris that had collected there and among all the silt and sewage were Angela’s rings.
“It was a stroke of luck really,” says Lee. “We couldn’t believe it when we found them, we were all so pleased that the job had such a happy ending.”
Carl and Angie were over the moon. “These rings mean the world to us, they have a huge amount of sentimental value,” says Carl. “We can’t thank Lee, Graham and United Utilities enough for taking so much trouble to return them to us.”