File photo shows a labourer working on gold bars at a plant of a gold refiner in Istanbul
File photo shows a labourer working on gold bars at a plant of a gold refiner in Istanbul Reuters

At least a family and a group of three friends have struck rich after finding gold bars on Folkestone beach as part of the coastal town's third triennial arts festival.

Kevin Wood, Kirsty Henderson and her sister Megan were the first to unearth a STG500 piece among the 30 bars of 24-carat gold hidden under the sand of the Outer Harbour beach in Folkestone. The friends dug for an hour at low tide.

Another family from Folkestone was able to dig their own share of the loot. The Guardian reported the lucky family wanted to remain anonymous.

"They just want to keep it quiet. The funder of the event knows the family involved. We are not sure whether it is one of the big bars or the smaller ones," the Guardian quoted Claire Doherty, director of the Situations art group, said.

The Situations art group was the one that commissioned Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer to hide the gold bars.

Doherty said some of the bars are worth £250 while others are £500.

Wood and the Henderson sisters had travelled from Canterbury to take part in the gold rush, which they learned on Twitter.

Wood said they finally found what they came for at 7 pm on Friday.

"My legs went from under me and I started shaking. I put it quietly in my pocket. We left the beach and half way home, we pulled over for a drink," he said.

He described other gold hunters on the beach even brought metal detectors with them. Seeing them with their detectors disheartened him, but his girlfriend Kristy urged him to just keep digging.

He said Kirsty then just picked a random spot. "We kept digging and it just popped out. I was quite excited."

He said the gold bars were buried not too deep, at about only 10cm down into the sand.

The Folkestone Digs project is part of the town's triennial. It had previously included work by artists such as Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller and Martin Creed. This year's festival will run from Aug 30 to Nov 2. Yoko Ono is said to be also taking part.