Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Natasha Wynarczyk

BBC show The Repair Shop restores historic Second World War family heirloom

Ross Brown never really forgave himself for ruining his grandad’s sailor hat from the Second World War.

It was a precious souvenir of Alf Rabbits’ years of service with the Royal Navy as a stoker in ships’ engine rooms.

As a boy Ross loved to wear it while visiting his grandparents, and aged seven he was delighted when Alf, known as Bunny, let him keep it.

But three years later he left it in a cupboard with a green felt-tip pen that stained the fabric through to the lining.

His bid to fix it with Tipp-Ex only made things worse. He was too ashamed to tell Alf what had happened, but 50 years on it has been restored to its former glory by experts on BBC1’s The Repair Shop.

Dominic Chinea, Ross Brown and Jayesh Vaghela on Wednesday episode of The Repair Shop (BBC)

In Wednesday night’s episode he reveals Alf’s story as he brings the heirloom in for restoration.

Ross was 17 when Alf died but he remembers him as "something special".

Alf was on the British troopship RMS Laconia when it was sunk by a U-boat off the West African coast on 12 September, 1942.

Over half those on board died but Alf lived to tell the tale to his wide-eyed grandson, who loved to wear his hat.

Ross' grandad Alf (right) during his time as a sailor (Daily Mirror)

Ross, now 60, of Broadstone, Dorset, says: "My granddad was a really good friend to me and was happy for me to have the hat. It meant a huge amount to him, so him wanting me to have it meant a huge amount to me.

"I’ve always been slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t keep it in good condition."

Ross wanted to keep the lining intact as Alf had written his name in it. So after scraping away the Tipp-Ex, master hatter Jayesh Vaghela separated the top lining to keep it safe then removed the stain with shaving foam before stitching it all back together.

A young Ross wearing his grandfather's historic hat as a child (DAILY MIRROR)

Ross says: "It was amazing...better than I expected.

"It’s such a great way to keep his memory alive."

While the hat hasn’t fit Ross since he was a young boy, he’s since kept the item that witnessed these adventures in pride of place in a display cabinet in his living room.

"Before it was repaired, I didn’t want to show it to anybody because it was in such poor condition," says Ross.

"Now it’s on show, and this makes it a talking point which is great because more people now know about my grandad and his story.

"It’s such a great way to remember him and keep his memory alive."

* The Repair Shop, Wednesday 8pm, BBC1

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.