Wales

Transport for Wales lost property: The things we leave on trains

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Media captionReuniting Welsh train passengers with their lost property

If you have ever lost anything on a train in Wales the chances are Gill Miles has it.

She is on a mission to reunite passengers with their lost property from her small, packed office.

Among the items she has recovered are urns of cremated ashes, war medals, adult toys and a boat rudder - as well as mobile phones, passports and bags.

More than 800 items are reported lost each month on Transport for Wales trains - those found end up in Newport.

While she admits the bulk of her work at the city's railway station centres on finding the owners of everyday items like bags and coats, she has also been called in to find homes for more exotic items too.

"I've been asked to find if I had a prize pigeon because he'd lost it on the train," Gill recalled.

"I had an ostrich egg that was patterned. That was lovely. We found that.

"We found a boat rudder once.

"I find false teeth sometimes, I find hearing aids.

"You'd be surprised, these little things - and it's unique to those people - and they really want them back."

Image caption From the moment an item arrives - it's Gill Miles's job to help find the owner

Once handed in, items are checked and the challenge is on - can Gill find their owners?

"You're like a detective really trying to find out the most about the customer as possible," said Gill.

"When it comes in I check against the log that they've sent me and we tag it up and find out what's inside."

Image caption "If I can see a smile on their face... I've done my job"

They are then placed on to a database before being archived on the packed shelves of Gill's office for 12 weeks. Any longer and she would simply run out of space.

Around 30% of items are reunited with their owners with the rest donated to charity.

Given the range of passengers that use the trains, matching up lost items can be a truly international project for Gill, who joined the railway in 2006.

She regularly delivers suitcases overseas to tourists who left them behind - with postage arranged as far away as Australia, Canada and the United States.

Image caption It's not just bags and coats left on trains - it can be items with high sentimental value

But as well as the everyday items there are some that have become a personal passion for Gill, like the collection of war medals with no means of identification.

For the things she can send home though there comes a real satisfaction in reuniting passengers with possessions they often feared had gone forever.

"If I can see a smile on their face it puts a smile on mine and I think well, I've done my job and I've done my duty.

"Every day I go home and I think I've done something good today."

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