As you are doubtless aware some **** nicked Sly’s camera and phone at the Hallowe’en bar crawl.
A number of people on the night said that if we had a whip-round, they would support it, so that we can take some of the weight off him buying a replacement body and lens.
So, unbeknownst to Sly we set up a secret little group and a just giving page and amazingly we reached our original target in less than 24 hours! As it was open for a month, people kept wanting to help and within the month not only did we replace the camera and lens, but upgraded him to a new model and better lens, got him a second lens for the new camera (as his old ones wouldn’t fit), replaced the flash that was stolen, got a memory card, new bag and all importantly a year’s insurance (his insurance didn’t cover theft in public unless he was mugged). So in the end every thing that was stolen ended up being better than ever and what was quite a harrowing few days for our Sly had him in tears for about a week!

We had a meeting for MRM7 and told him we needed a team photo… it was only when he realised that the camera was filming and not flashing that he had any clue as to any of this, it’s such a testament to the community he have that everyone pulled together in such a fashion.
Just watch his slightly bewildered reaction:

Si-Prise! from Rob Hardman on Vimeo.


A while later we added him to the secret group to let him see all the lovely thing you’d said about him and this was his response:

12244308_10156232164055174_2649122906101051790_o“Oh my word you guys. I’ve just been added to the group and seen the comments! What a beautiful surprise and no one let it slip at all!!
I’m a wreck all over again! I can’t show you my eyes as they’re red and puffy, the sneaky video catches me in shock and speechless but thank God the camera missed the weeping afterwards! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME!?!
I’m so gobsmacked and still a mess today haha.
I can’t thank you enough for this act of kindness (literally just started crying again). I tried to not get too angry or upset when the bag was stolen, I thought, “it’s just an object, I’m safe and I hope whoever stole it was in desperate need” but just seeing the response from a community pulling together and for the sake of little old me is still making me choke I’m so privileged to call you my friends! It’s easy to say we know we’re all loved but damn have I just been hit by a truck load of love and it actually really hurts hahah.
The camera is better than anything I’ve ever owned and the boys have said any excess that’s still coming in is going towards a flash gun, bag, batteries and lens etc that was also taken so thank you so much! I’ve got a very strong mix of saccharine, awe and happiness in my tummy right now, you’ve literally bowled me over. I’ll get round and say a thank you to you all for your insane generosity and to those that gave an anonymous donation THANK YOU, I don’t even know who you are but I am undone. You’ve ruined me. I hope I can repay the favour to you all some day. As Facebook is posting the cheesy ad videos today the words “I get by with a little help from my friends” couldn’t be more potent today! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”

I think we can safely say we got him!

We even made some of the gay news outlets after people hearing of an act of kindness among all the bad news of late, ShoutOut radio did this story on it, and Gaylife magazine printed one too! So thank you for everyone that took part in the surprise!