A retired police officer left heartbroken when thieves stole his exemplary service medal was stunned when it was pulled out of a RIVER in a "one-in-a-million" discovery

A retired police officer who was heartbroken when thieves stole his exemplary service medal was stunned after it was pulled out of a RIVER in a "one-in-a-million" discovery.

Geoffrey Barron, 82, was devastated when burglars ransacked his home last December and took his treasured medal which had been awarded to him when he retired in 1994.

The pensioner, who served for 32 years in Northamptonshire Police, believed the medal was lost forever following the raid.

But the grandfather was overjoyed when he received a call last week saying the medal had been found in a river by magnet fisher and environmentalist Dave Jordan.

Dave, 45, organises river litter-picking days and has a large following of fans who subscribe to his magnet fishing channel on YouTube.

He was with a teenage fan Ryan and his dad who joined him to trawl for treasures in the River Nene last month.

They had been searching the river in Northampton for just 30 minutes before Ryan fished out a blue metal box.

Inside was a medal which was engraved with Geoffrey’s name and police number which Dave used to tracked the pensioner down online.

He and Ryan, 17, are now planning to reunite Geoffrey, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, with his long-lost medal this weekend.

Dave said: “On the day, I met with Ryan and his dad as they wanted to come and fish for items with me.

“The two guys from Nottingham came down and helped to do the litter picking first.

“Then we put the magnets in the water to fish for items.

“At first, we found old bits of trolleys and other metal items but about 30 minutes into our fish, Ryan pulled out the medal.

“It was in a box, and it's got 'police long service medal' written on it.

“We would have never of found the medal if we hadn’t tackled all the rubbish in the river first.

“It really was like finding a needle in a haystack.

"It's got a name engraved on the outer edge of the medal, so me and my partner went looking online and found in a directory a name and a phone number.

"I bit the bullet and contacted the person, and it turned out that this medal was stolen in December 2021.

"Geoffrey's wife Maureen was over the moon, she and Geoffrey never thought it would be found.

“When I told Geoffrey’s wife, we had found the medal over the phone, apparently his face lit up.

“That means everything to me.

“They thought they would never see the medal again and now we can reunite it with them, it’s amazing.

“This was truly the best reward for cleaning up that rubbish.

“They thought they would never see the medal again and now we can reunite it with them, it’s amazing.

"Finding the medal after doing the good deed we did, that's the message here."

It is believed the thieves dumped the box containing the medal in the river after realising it would be difficult to sell.

Geoffrey and his wife Maureen, 72, who have five grown-up children and six grandchildren, were at a family wedding when they were burgled.

Maureen said: “We were heartbroken when we came home and found our house burgled.

“They had stolen jewellery, cash and our passports but the most sentimental thing we lost was Geoffrey’s police service medal.

“We never thought we’d get it back for him.

"Then all of a sudden, Dave phoned up to say that he had pulled it out the river.

“I couldn’t believe it. He described the medal, and I thought wow, that is Geoffrey’s medal.

“I was over the moon.

“When I told Geoffrey about the medal being found, his little eyes sparkled.

“It was one-in-a-million chance.

"My husband has Alzheimer's and doesn't remember everything, but that medal to say he served for 32 years, he does remember.

“His face lit up when I told him we got it and it was going to be presented to him by the young man who found it.

“I can't wait for Geoffrey to have the medal back in his hand again.”