Pensioner unearths £1,700 of pupils’ cash and gives it schools

Eric Soane  has turned his attention to school playing fields picking up 23,000 coins that have dropped out of pupils pockets. Picture: John Jeefay
Eric Soane has turned his attention to school playing fields picking up 23,000 coins that have dropped out of pupils pockets. Picture: John Jeefay
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A pensioner with a metal detector has collected more than £1,700 in loose change dropped by pupils and handed the money back to schools.

Eric Soane, 79, combs playgrounds and sports fields before giving the cash to headteachers to bolster funds.

So far he says he has picked up 22,331 coins worth £1,710 from 17 schools in the Inverness and Easter Ross areas.

His most lucrative day was at Raigmore Primary in Inverness, where he picked up 3,500 coins worth £185.

Rosebank Primary in Nairn was his second best day, finding 3,127 coins worth £160.

Mr Soane, famed for finding one of the largest ever hoards of Roman coins, now spends whole days combing playgrounds and school fields for coins to boost the schools’ coffers. The amateur treasure hunter changes the money at a bank before handing it over to schools.

He said the reaction from pupils when he hand-delivers a wad of notes was just priceless.

“I couldn’t believe the reception I got at Obsdale Primary School in Alness,” he said.

“The head-teacher was over the moon. And one of the little girls who took the money from me made a fan out of all the notes and held it out to her classmates.”

Carla Tunnicliffe, acting head teacher at Raigmore Primary, said: “The school is really appreciative of receiving the money Mr Soane finds in the school grounds.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman added: “Mr Soane sought permission from the schools’ head teachers that he metal detects at. It is important to note that some people cannot metal detect on land without the owner’s permission.”

Mr Soane took up metal detecting 15 years ago after a career in gunsmithing and social care. The pensioner works with the National Museums of Scotland, Inverness Museum and the Highlanders Museum to piece together the past at significant sites in the local area.

His biggest yield came when his metal detector struck on part of a 36 denarii Roman coin hoard during a clean up of discarded tent pegs at Belladrum. A dig led by archaeologist Dr Fraser Hunter uncovered the rest of what was the first Roman coin hoard to be discovered in the Beauly area.

One of his proudest moments was unearthing a gold wedding band that had slipped off a newlywed’s finger when she was helping to gather corn in 1958. He was delighted to reunite Joan MacLeod, of Cabrich, Kirkhill, with her cherished ring.