Original Photo

Reddit and I give my 87yo Grandad a wonderful gift!

My last remaining grandparent, Derek, is the loveliest man you could ever meet.  He was in the submarines in the Royal Navy, back in World War 2, and now lives alone near to where I live.  He’s 87 years old, but you really wouldn’t know it from meeting him!

He has a large family, with a daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren in Australia.  He also has sons here in the UK  with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Being the go-to IT guy in the family, I have helped keep him in touch with the world, by cleaning up old PCs when either myself or my parents have upgraded.  Often he’s ended up with a sub-par, but sufficient PC, which has enabled him to surf the net and Skype with his family in Australia, but the computers often take an age to boot up and were incredibly slow.  He was also limited by his poor internet connection, getting about 500kbps.

I had a spare PC laying about and home, which I had got from work.  It’s nothing amazing, but it isn’t bad (Core2Duo, 2GB Ram etc).  I decided to put Windows 8 on it, as I have been using it for a little while myself and thought that it would be a bit easier for him to use once I had shown him the ropes.  I also bought him a Microsoft LifeCam HD 3000  and a wireless dongle.

Once I had it all set up, I removed most of the irrelevant tiles from the Start menu, leaving him with the main ones that he needs (Skype, YouTube, Google, IE, Photos, Desktop, News).  I went over a couple of weeks ago and set him up and gave him an introduction to Windows 8 and the applications that he needs to use.  I showed him the top-to-bottom drag and release to close applications down, which was much easier for him as his hand isn’t the most steady now and so hitting small icons/buttons isn’t always very easy.  Similarly, the large tiles on the Start menu are also a big help for him.  I upped the text size and resolution a little to give him a good picture for his 19″ monitor.  The other thing that really made a massive difference to him was the speed of it! His old PC used to take about 5 minutes to boot up and even once it was running it was painfully slow. His PC now boots up in less than 15 seconds, so there’s no need for him to go downstairs for a cup of tea while he waits for it to load up! I also checked out his broadband options and managed to get him set for an upgrade to BT Fibre Broadband (30Mbps) the following week.

While helping him out, I sorted out his photos, which I had backed up from his old PC, and he showed me a crumpled photo of a photo of him back when he was in the Navy.  The image had been emailed to him by a relative, so I forwarded it on to myself to see what could be done with it.

Here it is:

Original Photo
This was the original image that I started with.

I have absolutely no skills when it comes to Photoshop or image editing in general, so rather than attempt to fix it up myself, I headed over to my favourite website, Reddit, to see whether there was a subreddit for photo restoration.

Fortunately, there is! It’s called /r/picrequests and so I headed over and uploaded the photo and posted it on there to see if anyone could help out.  Within an hour or so, I had a couple of quick tidy-ups, which were really great.  As the day went on, a few other people on there had a go and worked on the image, some using the original and others touching up previous attempts from other people.  By the end of the day, I had 6 great pictures, charting the progression of the restoration.  Here’s a link to the original thread. One guy even colourized the photo and added in a bit of a naval background.  All of the images, including the original, are in the gallery below.

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I was blown away by the selfless dedication of the people on that thread.  They expected nothing in return, yet spent hours of their day working on the photo, it was truly heart-warming and I was excited to share it with my Grandad, as he had no idea any of this was going on.

I printed off the photos and framed my favourite one to give him as a gift.  I gifted some Reddit Gold to the users who contributed as a thank-you.

Fast-forward to yesterday, where I headed over to his house with my girlfriend to give him the photos.  I asked my girlfriend to record him receiving it on my phone (Nokia Lumia 920 in case anyone was wondering).  We went in and said hello.  The reason I wanted to video it was to show the people that had worked on the image how appreciated their efforts were.  He absolutely loved the photos and I uploaded the video to YouTube that afternoon.  Here’s the video:

I then messaged the guys who had done the restoration with the YouTube link and also stuck up a post on the /r/videos page to share it with the rest of the community.

All I can say is WOW! The comments and feedback has been amazing! The video has had a heck of a lot of views already, well over 40,000 I think at this stage.  It’s been a truly heart-warming experience and goes to show that aside from all the crap that goes on in the world, there really are selfless people out there who care for each other!  Thank you Reddit and thank you Grandad for being so wonderful! xx

UPDATE – 06/05/13 22:32 – Amazing! He’s now had over 80,000 views on YouTube and a website called RightThisMinute has asked whether they can show the video! Unbelievable!


UPDATE – 07/05/13 22:10 – Crazy day, had some lovely messages and some TV shows interested.  Will post links to shows over the next day or two.  Almost 98,000 views now! Also managed to track down the person who restored the photo, which I framed, his name is David Humphreys!

UPDATE – 14/05/13 09:53 – Follow-up post with some of the media coverage here