Sidmouth's Wally tunes into helpful detecting

PUBLISHED: 13:58 31 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:10 18 June 2010

A METAL-detector wielding Sidmouth pensioner has turned Good Samaritan by using his hobby to reunite distraught beach-goers with lost belongings.

A METAL-detector wielding Sidmouth pensioner has turned Good Samaritan by using his hobby to reunite distraught beach-goers with lost belongings.

Plucky Winslade Road resident Wally Cotgrave, 70, has uncovered a host of historical treasures while metal detecting in the region, but finds that are invaluable to their owners have won him the most acclaim, so much that people in peril now ring him for help.

In recent months Wally has come to the rescue of an elderly couple who lost a 71-year-old engagement ring in Beer, and a seaside Sidmouth trader who's phone, complete with all his business contacts, went missing.

"I've found wedding rings in gardens to a chap's glasses in Exmouth," said Wally, who, weather permitting can be seen combing Sidmouth beach at 6am several times a week.

"I found an Elderly couple's ring from 1938 on Beer beach. They got in touch and I found that within ten minutes. You feel like you've achieved something and I got to meet two lovely people."

Lancaster couple Joan and Eddie Potter wrote to the Herald last month to express their gratitude.

Wally uncovered a mobile phone during FolkWeek, only to answer it and encounter an irate seafront stall holder on the other end.

"It was quite funny," explained Wally, "He said 'you've got my phone!' and I said 'just as well for you I have'. He told me his whole business was on that phone."

Reunited with the phone the grateful trader handed over a £20 reward.

"It was a lovely day for everybody!" said Wally.

Viking and Edwardian artefacts dating back more than a thousand years have also been found by Wally on his travels.

The pensioner, who counts stumping Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg on live television and spending an hour on a Trafalgar Square plinth as part of a human piece of art among his recent exploits, also finds the odd bit of spare change.

"It keeps me in batteries, he said. "I've found some smashing stuff and am meeting people all the time. A lot gets lost on there, people throw lots away. I'll have to do a boot sale, I've got more fishing weights than a fishing shop."

"I also use it as part of my fitness regime and get down to the beach at 6am. At 70 walking along the beach isn't easy, there's lots of bending down to do and I certainly get a sweat on, but I love it and would do it every morning if I could.


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