Mystery of 150-year-old sovereign left in collection tin at church

This article appeared recently in the Press and Journal. We were delighted to see one of our church reps receiving recognition. We always tell people that it’s amazing how much the spare change saved in blue tubs adds up to, but this took everyone by surprise. (photos: Press and Journal, permission to reproduce article received).

A Moray pensioner has been left stunned after discovering a Victorian coin worth £100 in her church’s charity collection tin.

Dorothy Shepherd has been fundraising at Cullen’s Church of Scotland building for more than a decade, and is accustomed to coming across nothing more unusual than the occasional foreign coin when counting donations.

But the 77-year-old was “amazed” when she recently unearthed a gold half-sovereign from 1864 embossed with the image of Queen Victoria.

Mrs Shepherd had enlisted her husband Ron, a Keith and Cullen councillor, to help sift through months of contributions when the local representative spotted the gleaming piece.

The couple resolved to find out what it was worth – and seized their chance when a pair of TV antique experts visited Keith this week. Tim Hogarth and Simon Schneider, who are well-known to fans of daytime TV show Dickinsons’ Real Deal, were evaluating locals’ offerings in the Moray town.

The pair advised Mrs Shepherd that the coin was worth £100 – and promptly handed her that amount in cash in exchange for it.

Last night, the kind-hearted volunteer revealed she would make sure all of the money went to The Leprosy Mission charity.

Mrs Shepherd said: “The Victorian coin had been dropped in a collection tin for that charity, so that’s where it belongs.”

She added: “The church has these little blue tubs, and we empty them three times a year to count the donations.

“We often get foreign coins, but Ron picked out this wee golden one.

“When we heard that the blokes from Dickinson’s Real Deal were coming to Keith, we thought we should go along to have it valued.

“When they offered me £100 for it I just thought ‘my goodness’.”

How the coin reached the Shepherds will remain a mystery – as they have no way of telling when it was donated or by whom.

Mrs Shepherd said the money will be used to “help feed and cure” hundreds of needy people.

She added: “I’ll certainly be paying more attention to the different coins when I’m counting them out in the futue.”

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21st Nov 2016

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Opinions are the authors own and not necessarily those of The Leprosy Mission Scotland.