Devon

Exeter student tracks down family of mystery 'dumped' archive

couple on wedding day Image copyright Joe Williams
Image caption Paul and Elizabeth Rosemary Ascher in one of the photos found by student, Joe Williams

A university student has solved the mystery of lost love letters, photo albums and telegrams found dumped in the mud on the side of a road.

Joe Williams stumbled across the pile of personal documents on 5 June in Exeter and has been trying to track down the owners.

On Friday he returned the collection to a relative of the couple pictured in the photographs.

They were Paul and Elizabeth Rosemary Ascher, who are both dead.

After a week of investigating following a Twitter appeal, Mr Williams tracked down Mrs Ascher's goddaughter.

She had cared for Mrs Ascher before she died and said she had given the documents to a family member at her godmother's funeral last month.

It was still a "mystery" how the documents ended up on a roadside in Exeter, added the goddaughter, who asked not to be named.

Image copyright Joe Williams
Image caption A more recent picture taken of the couple

Mr Williams said the goddaughter had been with Mrs Ascher when she died and the two had been "very close" because Mrs Ascher had no children.

Mrs Ascher died on 19 May in Somerset and her husband in 1998. They had previously lived in Reading.

Image copyright Joe Williams
Image caption Some of the collection found in Exeter last week

Through the Twitter appeal, Mr Williams also tracked down a distant cousin of Mr Ascher, who lives in Canada and was able to confirm the identity of the couple.

Some of the mementos were passed on to the cousin.

Mr Williams said he was "taken aback" when he discovered the haul of "dumped" treasures.

"It amazed me that someone could see these mementos, going back over 100 years, and decide the best thing to do was dump them at a roadside in wet mud."

Mrs Ascher's goddaughter said Mr Williams was "such a kind and caring person" and thanked him and his girlfriend.

Image copyright Joe Williams
Image caption Many of the watercolours were ripped, possibly deliberately, and many of the other belongings have been damaged.

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