The power of social media helps Beth to recover her beloved lost ring

Social media often gets a bad rap these days but one local woman was able to harness the power of Facebook to recover her engagement ring after it was lost on Downhill Strand.

Andy and Ryan McCloy
Andy and Ryan McCloy

Beth Donelly, who lives in Lisburn with her fiancé Ryan Clarke, was enjoying the recent spell of summer weather when the couple decided to make the most of sunshine and pay a visit to the north coast.

The 29-year-old- special needs teacher explained: “We weren’t even supposed to go to the beach as I usually take my jewellery off if I’m going. It was spur of the moment when we decided to make the most of the weather.

“It was late enough before we got there, probably about 7pm and as Ryan put out the blanket a short distance from the car I realised I was wearing my jewellery so I took it all back to the car for safe keeping.

Beth Donnelly and Ryan Clarke

“I clasped my hand tightly around everything and put it all in the cup holder but the ring must have slipped out.”

After spending a couple of hours on the beach, the couple decided to head for home, stopping off at Tim Horton’s in Coleraine for a coffee on the way back to Lisburn. It was only then that Beth remembered to put her jewellery back on and made the devastating discovery that her precious engagement ring had vanished.

“There was total panic when I realised the engagement ring was missing,” continued Beth. “We pulled the car apart and then rushed back up the road to Downhill.

“By the time we got there the sun was starting to fade and we searched until about 11pm but it was too dark to see anything so we made the decision to give up for the night. It was really hard to make that decision.”

Devastated at the loss, Beth admitted that she was pessimistic about ever finding the ring, which had great sentimental value to her, even aside from it’s significance as an engagement ring.

“I grew up in America and my mum is still over there,” Beth explained. “Ryan and my mum went to get the ring when we were over in America and they designed it together. It is more than just an engagement ring to me. I haven’t seen my mum for over two years because of Covid so I felt I had lost a link to my mum as well as the ring.”

After returning home to Lisburn, a friend of Beth’s suggested putting an appeal out on Facebook for anyone who may find the ring to get in touch. After posting an appeal on a Coleraine community Facebook page, Beth was shocked at the response.

“Overnight it got something like 3,200 shares and lots of comments,” she explained. “Complete strangers were saying they were thinking of us and praying for us. It was so wonderful.”

That was how father and son Andy and Ryan McCloy found out about Beth’s loss on the beach and they were keen to help. The pair, who often scour the beaches with their metal detectors looking for coins to collect, were determined to help the couple recover the precious ring.

“The asked me to call them and said they had been out searching since 5am but hadn’t found anything,” continued Beth, who then made the journey back to Downhill to meet with Andy and Ryan to see if they could narrow down the search area.

“When we arrived a lady came over and asked if I was ‘Beth’, she had seen the post on Facebook and wanted to help. She came with a rake to try to dislodge the sand. We were talking with Andy and Ryan, who was casually swinging his metal detector about when he heard a faint bleep. We kept moving the sand and the bleep got stronger. At first he thought it was a pull ring from a can but he turned it over and there were the diamonds.

“I was jumping up and down but it didn’t really sink in. I just wanted to hug him but couldn’t because of covid. It all came together so perfectly.”

Beth was keen to give Andy and Ryan a reward for finding the ring but they refused to take any money and simply asked that the couple spread the word that if anyone needed help finding lost items on the beach that they were happy to be of assistance. “If you ever lose anything, these guys can help,” added Beth. “They are the salt of the earth, they’re so wonderful. They really are our little superheroes!”