A pensioner was dealt a double blow on Budleigh Salterton beach when she almost drowned, losing an anniversary ring from her late husband.
Holidaymaker Helen Wright, aged 70, wants to thank the Good Samaritan who pulled her to safety from the sea when waves repeatedly knocked her down.
Helen, from Charlbury, Oxfordshire, has offered a reward for the safe return of the diamond and gold ring, given to her on her 25th wedding anniversary by husband Ken, who died in November 2018, aged 86.
And she wants to warn holidaymakers and beach visitors about the dangers of swimming in unfamiliar waters.
Helen described the ring as ‘attractive’, looking like two rings, each having a diamond set like a star or flower.
She does not have a photo of the ring to replicate the lost jewel.
Grandmother Helen, who was married to Ken for 35 years, said the ring was given to her on an anniversary cruise ten years ago.
“I can’t put it into words what the ring means to me,” she said.
“I do feel guilty because you can’t take earthly things with you; I shouldn’t put store by them, but when you wear something for a long time, it becomes part of you.
“There’s a ninety-nine to one chance against finding it. I don’t know whether I lost it in the sea, or If I was in or out of the water.
“I think it’s a slim chance that someone will find it, but you never know it might end up lodged in the pebbles.
“My husband gave it to me; we had saved up for a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary and he bought it for me when we were at sea.”
Keen swimmer Helen, a mum-of-two, had taken a dip in the sea while friends she was staying with from Kilmington went for a walk.
She set off from a point near the Lime Kiln car park but her swim was quickly scuppered by the steep shelf of pebbles hidden beneath the waves.
Within minutes of stepping into the water, Helen realised she was in danger and tried to raise the alarm.
She was pulled to safety by a stranger, but not before the pair were both battered by waves, knocking them down.
Helen tried to crawl from the water on her hands and knees, using her fingers to grip the pebbles, but was repeatedly knocked back by waves.
Exhausted, she lay on the pebbles, kept her head out of the water and raised her arm in the ‘desperate’ hope of attracting help.
Helen was saved by a stranger who was on the beach with his family.
“He must have seen I was in distress,” said Helen. “I lost count of the number of times I got thrown back. I couldn’t get out. The ground swung away.
“I thought ‘if this carries on, I won’t get out’.”
“I remember I was lying down. I had virtually given up. I believe in God, and I thought ‘God, I am sure you don’t want me to go like this’.
Helen said the man came across, asked her if she needed help then pulled her to safety.
“He took hold of one hand. I warned him I was heavy. He pulled me out; the waves knocked me down three times, then the same thing happened twice to us,” said Helen.
“He managed to get me out. I was terribly shaken.”
She added: “A tremendous thank you to the lovely guy who saved me. I am not sure what I would have done without him; I want to thank the gentleman, he was amazing. It wasn’t easy for him I can tell you.”
Helen had been close to shore when danger struck.
She walked down the beach from the Lime Kiln car park to swim, all the time she was in the water she kept sight of a bench back on shore.
On the beach nearby were three fishermen and a man with his family.
“I like to have a landmark when I am swimming. I feel so vulnerable these days,” said widow Helen.
“I did not manage to get further out than two or three metres.
“Afterwards, feeling very shocked by what had happened, I walked to the public toilets to change and shortly after discovered the loss of my ring. I was very upset.”
If you know the identity of Helen’s Good Samaritan or would like to claim the ring reward, email firstname.lastname@example.org