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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Forest tourists strike gold
The gold leaf
The replica gold leaf was hidden in the forest in March
A Rotherham couple are 1,200 better off after uncovering a replica gold leaf, hidden in the Forest of Dean four months ago.

The leaf was the treasure trove in a hunt for visitors designed to boost tourism.

Robert and Diane Farmer were presented with the real gold leaf, at the Dean Heritage Museum on Wednesday.

Clues to the location of the leaf, hidden in March within the forest's 24,000 acres, were issued every two weeks to help visitors find the treasure.

Revived awareness

The leaf was originally unearthed a month ago but the finders, from Lowestoft, declined to claim the reward.

The stunt was a repetition of the successful Kit Williams' puzzle novel Masquerade, which gave clues to the location of a buried golden hare and sparked a nationwide hunt in the 1980s.

Tourist bosses said the ploy had revived awareness of the forest as a visitor attraction.

"We don't have exact figures, but we know it's worked from the increased sale of Ordnance Survey maps," said Forest of Dean Council leader Anne Martin.

"The heritage centre has been inundated with emails, specifically about the hunt."

Visitor numbers had dropped by nearly 90% following the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The council now plans to launch another gold leaf hunt.


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22 Mar 02 | England
22 Jun 01 | UK
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