Jillian Hammond with her long-lost ring. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR
Thirty-six years ago, Jillian Hammond was trimming a macrocarpa hedge on the family farm in Ponatahi when she took her gloves off to brush a spider off her head.
In removing the gloves, her wedding ring was flung off, and Hammond never saw it again.
That is, until Monday, when she received a call from the farm’s present owners, the Morrisons.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hammond said.
While she had told the Morrisons and the farm’s previous owners about the ring, she had never expected them to find it.
“It could have flicked on to the back of the truck with all the hedge cuttings and we would have taken it up to the dump – it was just an unknown thing.”
Marilyn Morrison said she had spotted the ring in her vegetable garden while weeding her tomatoes.
“I wasn’t looking for it, but as soon as I saw it, I figured it was probably going to be hers.”
Morrison had lived on the farm for 25 years and had removed the macrocarpa hedge to put in a vegetable garden at least five years ago.
She said that the ring had been found in a slightly different location to the spot that Hammond had pointed out.
“I was really hoping that it was hers, rather than one that had just turned up in the mushroom compost or whatever we put on the garden.”
Hammond said that with trees being pulled out and roots moving around, it was amazing that the ring was even found in the same vicinity.
Out with friends on Monday night, Hammond had asked them, “Do you people believe in miracles?”.
“They looked at me like I was mad.”
She had also told her sons and said they were gobsmacked.
In the 36 years since the ring was lost, Hammond’s husband Peter had died.
He had given her the ring – bought in Brisbane and made of white gold – when she was 23 and they were living on a cattle station in Central Queensland.
Jillian and Peter had been based in Masterton since 1977 – the year God Defend New Zealand became NZ’s second official national anthem.
After losing the ring, Hammond had a similar ring made, but said it was not the same.
The original ring had a slightly bevelled edge that made it distinctive.
Hammond now planned to have the retrieved ring refitted.
“It’ll cost me a few dollars, but that’s beside the point … After all those years, it’s come home.”