Tortoise
An illustrative photo of a tortoise (not Toby).Reuters

A woman has been reunited with her 109-year-old pet tortoise after it spent nearly a year on the run.

Wendy Stokes, 74, had given up hope of ever finding beloved pet Toby after he ambled out of her garden in Kent last May.

The cheeky chap took advantage of an open gate and found himself on the open road, where a good samaritan picked him up and took him to a nearby rescue centre.

Six months ago, Toby was re-homed with a couple in the seaside resort of Margate, Kent, but his journey was far from over.

His new owners were curious about a unique feature he had - the name "Stokes" that had been daubed on his shell in white paint.

They decided to try to find his real owner, ringing every Stokes in Kent until they finally found Wendy - 22 miles away from them in West Hougham.

Wendy had been searching for Toby for months, so she was thrilled to hear the errant tortoise was alive and well and was finally reunited with him on 12 April.

"I had painted my name and number on the side of his shell but it had faded when he went missing so they couldn't read it," Wendy said.

"The people who found him could read Stokes but they couldn't make out the number.

"He had got out because I had left my gate open. It is normally closed because we have sheep in the paddock but they were in a different field," the retired farm worker said.

"Toby just walked out and trotted towards the road where somebody picked him up and took him to a rescue centre.

"Everyone knows I have a tortoise and we always take him to the village fête so he is a bit of a local celebrity.

"I was devastated when he went missing and spent weeks looking for him in all the fields around the farm. I went all goosey when they told me they had Toby because I had really given up on him," she added.

"It is brilliant having him back and I think everybody was keeping their eye out for him all this time."

Wendy has owned Toby since the 1980s, when he was given to her by her late aunt.