Local metal detectorist turns heartbreak to joy for local family

When Linda Doughty and her sister, Claire, took part in Worthing’s Night to Remember walk in aid of St Barnabas House this summer, it was the culmination of a very difficult period for the family.

The sisters were walking in memory of their parents, who died within a fortnight of each other in the winter of 2021. They expected an emotional weekend, but they weren’t prepared for the remarkable set of coincidences that followed – all of them focused on a family heirloom.

Linda, who lives in Arundel, explains that her mum, Pat, had lived with terminal illness for ten years. “She and my dad, Andrew, had been together for nearly 60 years. They were lovely parents. They lived in Rustington, and they did everything together – they liked to play badminton and go away in their caravan. They loved their holidays.

“After she got her diagnosis, Mum kept going, but unfortunately, we were on borrowed time.” When the time came, Linda and Claire stayed at the hospice with Pat. “The staff were amazing. They’d even bring us a glass of sherry – Mum’s favourite tipple – in the evening.

“Sadly, it was all too much for Dad and he couldn’t cope. He had a stroke and when she died, he was in hospital in Brighton so we couldn’t tell him. He died soon afterwards – I think they just they needed to be together.”

Linda and Claire signed up to walk 25km through the streets of Worthing in June for Night to Remember – raising funds and awareness for the hospice that cared for their mum. “My son, Richard, came down from university in London for the weekend to support us,” says Linda. “We went paddleboarding, which turned out to be a total disaster, because my dad’s wedding ring, which Richard had been wearing, came off in the water.

“We looked for it in the river, but it was nowhere to be found. Poor Richard was so upset, and although Claire and I had a lovely evening doing the walk, it put a bit of a dampener on the weekend.

The family heard about Mark Crane, a Lancing paramedic who uses his metal detector to search for people’s lost objects and donates any rewards to St Barnabas House. On Mark’s first try, he couldn’t locate the ring: “Then he sent a picture, asking ‘Is this it?’” says Linda.

“I hadn’t mentioned anything to Richard, so I surprised him with the ring at his graduation ceremony. That was a very happy day! We’re still amazed that we got the ring back – and the added link with St Barnabas makes it even more poignant.”

Linda and Claire at Night to Remember