MORE than 20 years since one of his beloved paintings was stolen, artist Phil King has been told it is still in existence.

Back in 1995 he was showing off his art collection at an exhibition in the Link Centre, in Swindon, when two paintings vanished.

The 18in x 14in scenes depicted the town centre during the early 20th century and Phil, now 80, gave up hope of ever seeing them again.

But over the weekend, the retired typewriter shop owner had a phone call to say that one of his works – a painting of Regent Street with the department store McIlroys in the background – is still out there.

“I had a phone call from a lady asking if I was an artist, to which I said yes, and then she explained that she had my painting,” the father-of-two said.

“When her father and mother lived locally in Swindon, they bought a painting from somewhere and it was only when they died that she inherited it.

“Now the family lives near Ilfracombe but lo and behold, she wanted to find out more about the artist which is when she searched my name online and found me.

“She said she had seen the articles on the Adver about them being stolen and that is why she wanted to get in touch.

“When I got off the phone, I couldn’t believe it and I was honestly amazed to hear that the painting was still in existence.

“Anything could have happened and to think that after all these years they have been found it amazing. They were in the corner of the exhibition and I honestly never noticed that they had gone.”

When Phil is reunited with the painting, he hopes to return it to the close family friend to whom he sold it in 1995 before it was stolen.

“Originally, after I painted the piece, I sold it to my mum’s neighbour Coleen and I borrowed it back especially for the exhibition,” he said.

“When I told her that I had managed to find the painting, she couldn’t believe it either.”

Phil, who lives in Pinehurst, traced the other painting 10 years ago when, wandering around a gallery in Lechlade, he came face-to-face with the picture of Swindon Town Hall.

“I just enjoy painting and art and that is why I think that is why it sells with people my age because the things in the paintings like the trams and railway workers are things that people can relate to,” he said.

Phil has arranged a date in May to collect the painting and, in the meantime, is counting down the days until he can see the work in its full glory once again.