Reunited – a delighted John Miles, left, proudly shows off the recovered sampler with dealer Clive Phillips.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Made by 15-year-old Rachel Miles in 1896, a large colourful needlework sampler detailed the names and birthdates of a number of Mr Miles' ancestors. It also gave the name of their home, Llangefelach.

But any hopes of finding it after such a long time must have been minimal - until a phone call following a find at the Carmarthen Antiques Fair on April 28-29.

Someone who had been touring the fair noticed something interesting when they came to the stand of North Wales antiques dealer Clive Phillips. There was a colourful framed sampler with the name Llangefelach worked in wool at the top complete with the name Miles underneath.

Mr Phillips, who had bought the sampler at the NEC in Birmingham only a week before, had decided to take it to the Carmarthen fair after realising that Llangefelach was the name of a farm and village near Carmarthen.

After numerous Saturday evening telephone calls, Mr Miles was finally located and told of the find - needless to say, he was first through the door on Sunday morning.

Absolutely delighted with his purchase, he was further thrilled to find his own name, John Miles, shared by a forebear born in 1837, worked into it.

"This is a wonderful story," said Carol Pugh of Towy Events who organise the fair. "Such samplers with so much family history worked into them are rare in themselves and the chances of it being reunited with a family after so long must be very slim."

By Stephanie Harris