A husband whose wedding ring fell off while at the tip on Valentine's Day was spared his blushes when staff found it under a 10ft pile of rubbish.
James Ross, 38, was dropping off cardboard at a recycling centre in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, when he felt his ring move before watching it fall into a household waste container.
He said his heart sank when he realised he and wife Lara were unlikely to see it again but four members of staff started a search by hand to retrieve it.
"My hands were cold and, as I was shaking out the box, suddenly the ring was just gone," he said.
"It wasn’t what it cost – it was laser engraved with my wife’s handwriting and the date we got married in 2009. It was irreplaceable.
"I don’t know if it caught the edge of the box, but my heart just sank. I was beside myself. I had no expectations and thought the chances of getting it back were slim."
He told Suez staff at the household waste recycling centre and four workers including Phil Cooper, Adam McGregor, and Brian Hellens began searching 10ft of rubbish by hand.
Plant operator Jordan Cooper, 22, spotted the ring in a puddle of mud under the waste just as staff were about to call off the search.
Ross said: "The ring was caked in rubbish and grime, but it was amazing to have it back. The staff were lifesavers.
"They’ve gone way beyond the call of duty, being as nice and polite as they can be.
"My wife was over the moon, she thought I was making up an elaborate story. We can’t thank them enough."
Lara said Ross has previous, once losing his ring in the sand at the beach and had people searching for it.
"The shape of the ring is round so when you get cold or lose weight it easily slips off. His ring really has nine lives," she said.
"We can’t thank the staff enough. It is great to give them the recognition that they deserve as they really went above and beyond their roles to help James."
Jordan Cooper said: "When we realised what had happened, we were all happy to help in the search, especially as it was Valentine’s Day.
"It was like looking for a needle in a haystack as there was a huge mound of waste to search through and we had the added difficulty of ensuring we kept our distance and followed the COVID guidelines.
"We were just about to give up when I spotted it, I was over the moon."
Watch: What you can and can't do in lockdown