But when the tide was right, Matthew Kneebone and his trusty metal detector recovered it again in just 20 minutes.
‘A crowd had formed on the beach, people had been asking what we were doing so came to watch,’ said Miss Le Gallez.
‘There were people crying and cheering. I didn’t cry, my eyes just lit up and I hugged Matty straight away. I was elated.’
Miss Le Gallez thought her rings had gone for good after she went swimming with a friend. Her dog followed her down the beach and jumped in after her. It caught the chain around her neck, which had three rings on, and snapped it. In the chaos, there was no chance to save anything.
‘I put the rings on a really strong chain as I didn’t want to lose them as I was going in the sea. I like to always have them on me, it was such a freak accident that the chain was snapped,’ she said.
All three of the rings belonged to her mother, who died in April. The chain and a pendant on it were also lost to the ocean.
‘I was devastated, so I called Matty straight away. I knew he would be able to help.’
He told her to take a photograph of the area which would help him to search the right spot. They went down, with a group of friends, to conduct the search on a spring tide last Friday.
‘I knew in my heart of hearts that Matty would find the rings, but I didn’t sleep for two weeks because of the stress I was feeling,’ said Miss Le Gallez.
It took just 20 minutes to find the rings, the pendant and the chain.
Mr Kneebone said he had found lots of sentimental items on the shore, including a rare military badge, and a ring that was lost on a beach, that a 71-year-old woman had owned since she was 21.
‘I’ve had quite a few calls to find things,’ said Mr Kneebone. ‘I don’t find everything, but I would say I find 80% of things. I’ve done quite well in the last three to four years.’
People often offer to pay Mr Kneebone for his help, but he asks them instead to make a donation to the Guernsey Kidney Patients Association. He had a kidney transplant in 2017.
‘Matty doesn’t want any recognition or credit, but I think he deserves it. I, and all the people he has helped, will never be able to thank him enough,’ said Miss Le Gallez.