Reward offered for antique violin left on train

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The Independent Online

It is not uncommon to leave a book, mobile phone, rucksack or even laptop by your seat before alighting, only to discover the loss just as your train creaks agonisingly out of the station.

But such mishaps have been brought into perspective after a £10,000 reward was offered by a man who had just had his family-owned, 17th Century violin valued in London at £180,000, only to emerge from his Taunton-bound train with his usual briefcase and coat but without the crucial heirloom.

Robert Napier, from Wiltshire, had got off at Bedwyn on 29 January when he realised too late, and despite the train's alarm being raised and a search at its final destination the 1698 Venice-made Goffriller instrument has still not been found or handed in.

"It was just one of those terrible moments when I realised, as the train was steaming off, that I had left it on the train," he said.

"I put it on the luggage rack above my seat and when I got to Bedwyn, got off the train and I simply left it. I had my briefcase and coat, how I normally travel," said Mr Napier.

"I've relived the moment. I think when I put it on the luggage rack I thought I couldn't possibly forget it, and I didn't want to appear different. I was trying to behave normally."

Mr Napier and his two brothers and two sisters inherited the instrument from their mother, Elizabeth Hunt, from Wellington in Somerset, who used it to entertain troops as a member of an ensemble called the Ebsworth Quartet.

Later, Ms Hunt took the violin on travels abroad to India, Africa and Germany.

The missing Goffriller - with a bow stamped R Sartory - was in a rectangular, brown case.