A GRIEVING woman is seeking a Good Samaritan who chased a thief across fields to retrieve her stolen handbag, only hours before her mum’s funeral.

The stranger sprang into action after Julie Reid left her handbag in her car while visiting St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church at Hilperton.

The 61-year-old, 61, of Walmesley Chase, Trowbridge, said: “I had gone to the church to sort out the music for my mother’s funeral and left the handbag in my car.

“While I was there, I noticed a man who was looking around the church at the pictures and the writing about its history.

“I was in a panic and a bit emotional and I was only in the church for a few minutes trying to sort out the music but my iPod didn’t work.

“I went back outside to my car to get my mobile phone. I must have dashed back in and forgotten to lock it while I was talking to the church organist Tim Davies and the churchwarden Barrie Lovell.

“When I came out to rush back home to get changed for the funeral, I discovered my handbag was missing.

“I rang the vicar to explain what had happened and to tell him that I might be late, and my partner Adrian Ingham rang the bank to cancel my debit card.”

The handbag contained precious photos of her mother Joan Cuff, who died on December 8 aged 90, as well as Ms Reid’s purse and bank card.

Unbeknown to exercise teacher Ms Reid, the visitor to the church had seen the thief take the handbag and gave chase across nearby fields, before the thief dropped the bag and ran off.

The Good Samaritan, who she knows only as Steven, then returned it to the church in The Knap and it was waiting for Mrs Reid when she arrived for her mother’s funeral on Friday.

The Knap leads to Middle Lane, a historic route now a farm track which crosses Hilperton Gap and has access to several footpaths.

Ms Reid added: “When I arrived back at the church I asked the vicar if he had got my message. He said ‘Yes, did you get mine?’and I said No.”

“The Rev Hugh Hoskins then explained that the bag was in the church and that someone had found it and brought it back.

“The vicar said the man, whose first name is Steven, had seen the thief steal the bag and had chased the man across the fields. “Eventually the thief dropped it and he brought it back to the church. By the time the funeral ended, half the congregation had heard what had happened

“I have reported the theft to the police but they need to speak to Steven for more details.

“It is quite amazing really. I would like to thank the chap who chased the thief and I would like to see the thief caught. I can’t thank Steven enough because there were photos of my mum in the bag.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t give his second name before he left and the mobile phone number he provided has one digit missing.

“I would like to thank him and the police would like to speak to him to help with their investigation.

“If I can find Steven and thank him it would be fantastic.”

Ms Reid is now hoping for better luck this year, after the death of her mother rounded off a 2019 which saw her home being burgled and her being assaulted by a man outside the Budgens store in Paxcroft Mead.

She would like to ask Good Samaritan Steven to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 to give details of the theft and to call her on 07877 020481.