A stunned couple have finally seen a series of photographs of their wedding taken 35 years ago – after a roll film stolen during the reception was found.
Mick, 60, and Tracey Hepworth, 55, were left devastated when thieves swiped a handbag containing a roll of film shot by a relative during their wedding in 1985.
Family members gave chase to the thieves, who discarded the handbag owned by Tracey’s cousin Karen Williams as they fled the scene.
The couple gave up all hope of ever seeing the sentimental photographs again.
However, unbeknown to them, passer-by Angie McHale had picked up the handbag that night and had the snaps developed.
She had no way of tracing the people in the photographs, so stored them away.
But Angie, who has moved house four times since, was packing her stuff up for another move in January when she came across the photos again.
She posted them to Facebook to ask if anybody knew who they might belong to – and within hours she was put in touch with the rightful owners.
Karen Williams, 55, said her handbag was nicked while she was up dancing at the evening reception of her cousin’s wedding at a pub in Leeds, West Yorks., on July 6, 1985.
Family members chased the thieves and tracked them down to a nearby pub, where a fight ensued and Karen’s dad John Warren was stabbed.
Karen said: “We were all just up dancing and when we went to sit back down, my bag was missing.
“We saw the two men running out and my auntie ran after them shouting ‘it is them lads’.
“A huge fight broke out and my dad got stabbed. The lads ran off and must have gone up and around the corner, we just lost sight of them.
“Some girls told my brother not to chase after them and they ended up getting away.
“The camera and film were in my handbag.
“As far as we were concerned, the pictures had gone, never to be seen again.”
Almost 35 years on, Angie was clearing out her home ready for another move when she came across the pictures and made the online appeal.
She said: “I was walking down the street when I spotted the handles of a hand bag.
“The bag was empty but on the floor, there was a roll of film.
“I decided to take the film to be developed at the chemist and discover what was on the photographs.
“The film must have just fallen out of the camera. I thought I had got the wrong photographs before realising I had added the roll I found. There was no internet then, I just didn’t know how I would find out who was in the pictures.
“I came across them again after having a clear out ready to move and thought I could try one last time to find the people involved. I vowed to find them.
“I would have never thrown the photographs away, I just never thought I would find them. To put faces to the old photographs is incredible.”
Christine, Karen’s sister, said: “Somebody I know messaged me and said ‘I think I have spotted you on some old photographs’.
“Everyone locally had shared it, there were 400 or 500 comments when I saw the post. I got asked ‘have you seen this?!’
“I couldn’t believe it, the photographs posted on Facebook were the missing ones from 1985. Our family were absolutely amazed.”
Christine and Karen reached out to Angie, who told them to give her the address to reunite them with the photographs.
When Angie turned up at the family’s house in Leeds, Karen and Marjorie Warren, Karen and Christine’s mum, were waiting there with flowers.
Tracey said: “It was lovely to see such happy memories of a wonderful day despite the unfortunate incident with my uncle. I remember it was such a happy and exciting day for us all as a family.
“We will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary on 6th July 2020.
“It was a thoughtful gesture for what was a complete stranger, Angie Mac, to decide to track down the owner of the photos.
“We have sadly lost some family from these photos but its a lovely reminder of them and I’m sure it’s brought a smile to their faces as it has done for us and all our family.
“It just shows Facebook can be used for good and I was completely surprised at how many comments there were wanted to know if we were still together.
“Happily we are so the story did have a happy ending.”