A council has handed an OAP her purse containing £500 Christmas savings which she tossed out with the rubbish.
Incredibly, dustmen sifted through SIX TONNES of foul-smelling, rotting fish heads, excrement-covered nappies, putrid meat leftovers and other rubbish to find it.
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She realised she must have put her purse out with the refuse which was being collected.
But by the time she dashed home, the dustmen had already taken it away.
Pat, of Portchester, Portsmouth, Hants, made a tearful, desperate call to the council - and they delivered the purse and the cash to her two hours later.
"I didn't think I would ever see the purse again" she admitted today.
"To have the refuse team go and dig it out, amidst all that other rubbish, and return it to me, with everything accounted for - it just reaffirms my belief in people.
"I was shopping in Portchester and realised the purse was missing.
"I was in a right flap when I realised I must have put it in the bin with all the other rubbish for collection before I left home.
"Dashing back home, my worst fears were confirmed - they had collected the rubbish and the purse was nowhere to be found.
"I immediately got in touch with Fareham Borough Council and to my amazement, I got a knock on the door less than two hours later to be handed back my purse, with all the cash and cards intact."
The team at the council's refuse depot in Broadcut, Fareham, sifted through an estimated six tonnes of waste before they discovered the battered red purse.
Pat, of Winnham Drive, Portchester, was given the news while she was out in the garden by her husband, Robin, who called out to say the purse had been found.
She said "I just think the honesty of the workers who found it is unbelievable.
"Nobody would have expected that they would find it, and that quickly, too!
"To me, it was customer service that went beyond the call of duty."
Now she's gone to the depot to thank them in person - and she handed them some chocolate biscuits.
The pre-Christmas treat was presented to transport supervisor Damian Ayling and workers Matt Griffin, Richard Carver, Wesley Allen, Phil West and Nigel Vine.
She told them "I just can't thank you enough. It would have been a huge annoyance to lose that amount of money."
Coun Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: "I am delighted the team were able to find Pat's purse and could hand it back to her with everything still in there.
"They truly went above and beyond to help this customer."