Fifty five-year-old Tom diced with death among rotating spikes designed to open recycling bags and a glass crusher at Cardiff Council’s materials recycling facility before being rescued by staff.

The pet had vanished five weeks earlier from the home of actress Jones, co-writer and star of BBC comedy series Gavin and Stacey and village barmaid Myfanwy in Little Britain.

Council staff believe Tom climbed into a bag of recycling at the family home and hitched a lift in a council recycling truck. He then spent a month among the rubbish at the MRF before almost being recycled.

An eagle-eyed worker at the plant spotted him on the conveyer belt, but staff had to wait until he had gone through the glass crusher before plucking him from the jaws of almost certain death in the sorting machines.

Although Tom’s ordeal is over, he will still bear the scars of his traumatic adventure, after the MRF’s machinery made its mark on his shell.

A council spokesman told edie: “The tortoise had a very, very lucky escape. If it had gone through to the next section it could have been a different story.”

MRF worker Paul Cowling said: “It was a huge surprise to see a tortoise on the line. We get some incorrect materials coming through here, but it is the first time for a tortoise.”

He added: “We are all pleased Tom survived and the fact that the tortoise belongs to Ruth Jones is something else.”

Jones, who had mounted a poster campaign in her neighbourhood with husband David after the tortoise went missing, thanked staff at the MRF.

She said: “We really thought we had lost him and the family is relieved to have him back home.”

Two years ago workers at a Kent MRF had a similar shock when tortoise Murphy turned up on the line – although he was not spotted until after he had been sorted like a glass bottle.

Although workers at the Cardiff facility have not come across animals on the conveyor belt before, it is not the first unusual item they have spotted – staff have previously discovered what was thought to be live ammunition.

Kate Martin

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