A TREASURE trove of £2,000 was a welcome scoop for Malpas rugby players who dug up an old wishing well.
The penny dropped that they’d discovered a pot of gold, after filling 30 buckets with unearthed coins!
Malpas and District Rugby Development Group (MDRDG) enjoyed the windfall after excavating a wishing well at the Bickerton Poacher pub and restaurant at Bulkeley.
Since 1994 customers have been flipping coins into the well, which is an old ventilation shaft from a nearby former copper mine.
Rugby-mad landlord Ian Williams offered to donate the 14 years’ worth of cash to MDRDG – if they rose to the challenge of digging it up.
Work got underway to borrow specialist equipment thanks to MDRDG committee member Paul Davies who approached his bosses at pump firm Landia in Whitchurch.
The team used safety harnesses, gas monitors to check for poisonous fumes, a chain link ladder and a safety winch.
Mr Davies and Landia colleague Dave Baldock donned hard hats to descend 30ft with shovels and buckets.
“It was incredible – as soon as one bucket was pulled up on ropes, the next bucket was full,” he said.
“Landia installs pumps in wells all the time, so we’re experienced at this kind of job. But it was still hair-raising. It was very narrow and we had to go down on a chain link ladder because a normal ladder was too wide.”
The descent was made more challenging by a resident skeleton, displayed half-way down the well.
The team lifted out the set of real bones, joined by wire, to clear the way. They dressed the skeleton in a Bishop Heber rugby shirt before putting it back in place.
After four hours of lifting out buckets of pennies, the team of nine Bishop Heber pupils started a mammoth coin-cleaning operation.
MDRDG chairman Mike Townsend said it was worth all the effort.
“This was an extremely generous donation,” he said. “Not only have we received a boost to our resources, but the lads had a great day out.”
The pupils thanked their lucky stars after crossing paths with landlord Ian Williams while sheltering from bad weather in the Bickerton Poacher.
The team was on a sponsored walk on Bickerton Hills when they were hit by high winds and heavy rain. They headed to the pub and discovered that Mr Williams is a former Wales Schoolboy international rugby star.
He captained Wales three times, as hooker, and went on to play for Liverpool Waterloo and St Helens.
He was intrigued to hear about MDRDG, which develops young talent at Bishop Heber and around Malpas.