In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO!, Geraldine Winner, widow of film director Michael Winner, reveals how she has finally been reunited with the precious items of jewellery that were stolen four years ago in a violent raid on her London home. Around £280,000 worth of items, including valuable artwork, were taken by her late husband's vengeful ex-girlfriend Gurgana Gueorguieva, who during the robbery subjected Geraldine, now 81, to a sustained three-hour ordeal.
Among the jewellery to be returned is the Victorian diamond engagement ring given to her by Michael, who died in 2013. "I never thought I'd see it again," she tells HELLO! "In fact I doubted I would see any of it again. It was the loss of items of sentimental value which hurt the most."
Geraldine has been reunited with her jewellery
Geraldine was reunited with her ring and other pieces – including a heart-shaped diamond pendant, the first pair of earrings and a watch Michael had given her - almost four years to the day of the robbery, thanks to meticulous detective work by the police. She recalls how she was overcome with emotion when she found a touching handwritten note from Michael inside the safe as she deposited the jewellery inside.
"It says, 'I luv my cherub xxx,'" she tells HELLO! "Cherub was his pet name for me. He gave me that message shortly before he died, when he was so ill he could hardly write. It was one of the last things he ever put down on paper. I'd forgotten it was in the safe, and it was so lovely to find at that moment and after all this time."
The happy reunion with her possessions came days after her 48-year-old attacker – who bound, blindfolded and battered Geraldine, and threatened to kill her in the robbery she had been planning for two years – was jailed for nine and a half years. "How on earth she thought she would get away with what she did, I'll never know," says Geraldine, who had psychiatric therapy for nine months to overcome her trauma. "I was terrified that someone would come into my apartment and attack me again," she tells HELLO! "I was too scared to be alone at night so a friend stayed in my spare room." With the help of the therapy, Geraldine has now recovered. "I've got that original British backbone," she says. "I won't be beaten."
To read the full interview with Geraldine, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out on Monday