‘Trespassing tortoise’ found at electricity substation returned to schoolboy

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A nine-year-old boy’s loved ones wept tears of joy after his pet tortoise was found at an 11,000-volt electricity substation – seven months after going missing.

Mary escaped from her home in Wigan last August, leaving Harvey Dean-Evans “devastated”.

His family gave up on the search, assuming the animal had been stolen, after “searching all over”.

“Mary is used to being outside,” Harvey’s mother Jodie said.

“During the summer, we regularly let her out in a small pen and she’s quite well known on the estate.

“But that evening in August, she somehow got out of the garden and, despite searching all over, there were just no signs of her and we thought she’d been taken.”

Mary the tortoise
Mary the tortoise (Ian Robinson/Electricity North West/PA)

But, earlier this month, Mary was spotted by Ben Baxendale, a grounds maintenance worker for power firm Electricity North West, at an electricity substation powering Norley in Wigan.

“At first I thought it was some sort of toy on the floor,” Mr Baxendale said.

“Then I saw the tortoise move and retract its head into its shell.

“It was certainly a strange one and something I’ve never dealt with before.

“I put the tortoise in a bucket and thought I’d knock on a few doors but knew if it wasn’t anybody’s we’d have to find it a home for the weekend.

“We always make it clear that no one should ever enter our substations – they have ‘danger of death’ signs on for a reason – but this is the first time I’ve seen a trespassing tortoise.

“I’m just delighted we could return her safely to where she belongs.”

Deciding to check with nearby houses to see if someone had misplaced a tortoise, luck was on Mr Baxendale’s side as the first person he spoke to turned out to be Harvey’s grandmother, who recognised Mary.

“There was all sorts of emotions when we saw Mary,” she said.

“It was such a heart-warming moment to see the smile on Harvey’s face.

“He’s really into his animals and loves everything about nature.

“He was devastated when Mary had gone missing but seeing his reaction when she was found made a few of us cry.

“I honestly can’t thank Ben and Electricity North West enough; they really did make Harvey’s day.”

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