Old pals reunited by missing purse

Sharon Swanton, left, is reunited with her long lost friend, Diane Price, and her purse
Sharon Swanton, left, is reunited with her long lost friend, Diane Price, and her purse

THE discovery of a purse found hidden in a Wigan school has led to two old friends being reunited after nearly 40 years.

Last week, the Evening Post appealed for help in tracking down the owner of a leather purse found on the site of the former Hesketh Fletcher School in Atherton.

Friends of Sharon Swanton, who lives in Atherton and attended the school in the 1970s, saw the story of the purse in the paper and notified her.

Sharon said: “It was posted on my Facebook page, I keep in touch with a few friends from school and they told me about it.

“I recognised my friend Diane in them straightaway and then realised I was there as well.

“It must have been my purse because the picture says ‘Me and Diane’ on the back, although I can’t remember it.

“It’s a mad thing to have happened like this.”

Hesketh Fletcher closed in 2011 but workers are currently renovating the site as part of it will be used for the soon to open Atherton Community School.

Andy Smith of Burnleybased Stewart Festina glazing company found the purse stashed between a pane of glass and a window frame.

Sharon admitted the reason for hiding the purse - which contained the photo and a pack of cigarettes - was to keep herself out of trouble.

She said: “I feel awful saying this because I now have children of a similar age now but I was probably hiding the cigarettes because if pupils were caught with them you got the cane.”

Although the purse being found has led to Sharon to get in touch with her old friend Diane Price.

Mum-of-two Sharon, who has been married to husband Paul for 29 years, said: “We had lost touch over the years but I’ve since found out we live quite close to each other and we were able to have a chat for the first time in years when I met her to tell her about all this.

“It has brought back a lot of memories – the bus ticket was there because I got the bus to school from Wigan central everyday. And the picture of our trip to Southport, I remember we went with Diane’s family in a half-term holiday.”

Sharon claiming the purse marks a happy end to the tale for local butcher Peter Jones, who it was passed on to by Andy Smith.

Peter even guessed the correct reason for the purse being hidden in the first place.

He said: “I left school at a similar time in the 70s and lots of kids smoked and hid cigarettes. I knew it would be an interesting back story.

“The photos are in good condition and I think someone will recognise the girls in them. “

The bus ticket gives the date as 1975 and one of the photos has been marked with “Trip to Southport”.

n Have you been reunited with an old pal in unusual circumstances? We’d love to hear from you. Call our newsdesk on 01942 506276 or email newsroom@lancspublications.co.uk