The Journal murder mystery competition prize up for auction 30 years on

Prize gems - given away for solving a whodunnit puzzle in the Journal - are now to be sold by 1984 winner

 

Thirty years ago The Journal invited readers to tackle a murder mystery – and offered to reward the first to solve the riddle with a glittering prize.

Eight Saturday story instalments provided a succession of clues, with a £5,000 sapphire and diamond necklace and matching earrings for the winning answer.

Now another chapter in the whodunnit saga is about to be written as the original winner has decided to part with her prize.

Kate Ford, who lives in Newton-on-the-Moor in Northumberland, is selling the necklace and earrings on Wednesday in an Anderson and Garland Newcastle auction. The estimate is £1,500 - £2,000.

The original £5,000 cost was due to the fact that the item had been commissioned by The Journal from jewellers Wittons of Sunderland.

It was on September 8, 1984, that The Journal launched the whodunnit, urging readers to turn detective to win the “fabulous prize.”

The murder mystery was set in a North East country house and the weekly story continued until November 3.

Kate Ford who won the Journal Whodunnit competition in 1984 and won a sapphire necklace which is now up for auction at Anderson Garland
Kate Ford who won the Journal Whodunnit competition in 1984 and won a sapphire necklace which is now up for auction at Anderson Garland
 

Readers had to identify the murderer and write a title for the mystery tale.

The winner was Newcastle Central police inspector Mick Ford, with the backing of wife Kate and their two daughters.

Kate, who lived in Gosforth in Newcastle at the time, said: “It was a 1930s whodunnit. You had to persevere and I saved all the instalments and gave them to my late husband, who was a very clever man and good at puzzles.

“Two days before the deadline he sat down, solved the mystery and gave the crime thriller a name, The White Threads. Then, one or two weeks later, he rang me and said: ‘How do you fancy wearing the diamonds?’

“Amusingly, with my husband being a policeman, the headline announcing our win in the paper was ‘A real inspector calls.’

“We were presented with the prize in The Journal boardroom. The necklace was absolutely gorgeous.

“I wore the necklace when I first got it and have done several times since for Christmas and special events

“However over the years I’ve worn the jewellery less frequently and my children aren’t going to wear it either. In light of this, I’m hoping the set will go to someone who’ll enjoy both the jewels and the background story as much as I have.”

Also in the auction is jewellery from a” time capsule” house in Northumberland. The items, set to fetch a total of around £13,000, were owned by Doreen Morant, daughter of Brigadier-General Hubert Morant, of the Durham Light Infantry who lived at the Hermitage near Hexham.

The rooms of the house were filled with objects dating back many decades, which were auctioned by Anderson and Garland last year, including Hubert Morant’s First World War diaries which were featured in The Journal.

The jewellery to be sold on Wednesday includes Victorian pieces such as a diamond and pearl brooch, an orchid diamond brooch, a diamond starburst brooch and pendant and a diamond ring, and a 1912 gold chain mail purse.

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