A SHOCKED army veteran has been reunited with his stolen campaign medal after more than 30 years – describing it as ‘the miracle he never thought would happen’.
Frank Money lost his beloved Borneo medal when his former home in Magpie Walk, Wecock Farm, was ransacked by a thief in 1988.
The raid left him heartbroken and convinced he would never again be able to wear his accolade.
But unbeknown to the 86-year-old, his prized possession had been dumped in a small patch of woodland a few hundred metres away from his home - where they remained for three decades.
It wasn’t until metal detectorist, Aaron Lemon, stumbled across them in 2018 that it was finally recovered.
But not knowing who it belonged to, 32-year-old Aaron, of Thrush Walk, kept the medal in storage for a year.
Then on the one-year anniversary of uncovering the medal, the dad-of-four put an appeal out on Facebook to try and trace the owner - one that was picked up by a military group the Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ
And within hours, the team were able to track down Mr Money and let him know that his medal had finally been found - much to the veteran’s astonishment.
Great grandfather-of-three, Mr Money, who now lives in Lavender Road, Waterlooville, said: ‘This is a bloody miracle. I never thought I would see the medal again.
‘I must have walked past it in the woods all the time but never knew they were there.
‘I’m enormously thankful it has finally been returned to me. It means an awful lot.’
Mr Money was a former Corporal in the army and served with the former Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
He served in Borneo for about in year from 1964 before leaving the army and becoming a bus driver in 1971, retiring later in 1997.
His medal was stolen by one of Mr Money’s neighbours, who had broken in while the former soldier was at the pub.
Speaking about the crime, Mr Money said: ‘The thief had been in the bedroom hunting around. I opened up the drawer and saw my medal box was gone.
‘I was gutted. The medal wasn’t worth anything but it meant a lot to me and I couldn’t get that back.’
Mr Lemon found the medal while walking in the woods with his children.He also discovered a smaller set of military awards also belonging to Mr Money.
After putting out his renewed appeal on Facebook last month, it was picked up by fellow metal detectorist Iain Hamilton, who shared them with friends in the Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ on Facebook.
Mr Lemon said: ‘There was no way I was going to get rid of them The looked a bit cruddy when I found them so I tried to clean them up.
‘Finally giving them back to him was so emotional. I’m a fully-grown man. But I got teary eyed when I took them over to him.’
Mr Hamilton, 62, of Hambrook added: ‘It was absolutely amazing to reunite Frank with his medal.’
Mr Money is now looking to try and repair some of the damage to his medal.
He added: ‘It was good when I got it back in my hands. It was something that I never expected to see. I didn’t think there was anything I could do.’