Video report by Helen Carnell
A man who lost his wedding ring in a rubbish tip in North Shields on Valentine's Day says his "heart sank" when he realised it was missing.
James Ross was dropping off cardboard when the band slipped off his finger and disappeared into a 3m household waste container.
The 38-year-old watched nervously as staff spent 20 minutes searching for the ring, before it retrieved, "caked in rubbish and grime."
James, who lives in Cullercoats and his wife Lara and their two daughters, said staff at the site had "gone beyond the call of duty."
“My wife was over the moon, she thought I was making up an elaborate story. We can’t thank them enough", he said.
“It was a container where you push the rubbish through an opening. It was very cold.
"My hands were cold and, as I was shaking out the box, suddenly the ring was just gone. I don’t know if it caught the edge of the box, but my heart just sank.
“I went over and there was a lady checking cars and I told her what had happened. She was lovely and calm, she told me not to worry and said she’d get someone to come and have a look.
They sent four lads round to search for it and they must have been going at it for 20 minutes. I was losing hope and dreaded the thought of going home to my wife on Valentine’s Day and telling her my ring was lost.
“It wasn’t what it cost – it was laser engraved with my wife’s handwriting and the date we got married in 2009. It was irreplaceable.
“I was beside myself. I had no expectations and thought the chances of getting it back were slim. The team had to pull out a huge pile of rubbish and shove it all behind them and check it over and over again.
“Suddenly, there it was. The ring was caked in rubbish and grime, but it was amazing to have it back. The staff were life-savers."
"They’ve gone way beyond the call of duty, being as nice and polite as they can be. "
The team were close to giving up on the search when plant operator, Jordan Cooper, 22, spotted the ring in a puddle of mud under a 10ft pile of waste.
He said: “When we realised what had happened, we were all happy to help in the search, especially as it was Valentine’s Day.
"It was like looking for a needle in a haystack as there was a huge mound of waste to search through and we had the added difficulty of ensuring we kept our distance and followed the COVID guidelines."
"We were just about to give up when I spotted it, I was over the moon!”