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The Repair Shop viewers 'bawling' over heartbreaking story behind 'beautiful' fix

Londoner Leigh brought in a chair he bought with his late partner Greg

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
May 30, 2024
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The Repair Shop viewers were wiping away their tears on Wednesday night over the heartbreaking story behind a treasured item brought in for restoration. 

Host Jay Blades and upholsterer Sonnaz Nooranvary welcomed Londoner Leigh into the barn with a leather armchair in need of some serious TLC. Leigh explained that he bought the chair over 40 years ago with the love of his life, Greg, who worked for the US Air Force. 

The couple first met in Greece, where they instantly fell for one another, prompting Greg to move to the UK to be with Leigh. The pair settled in London, where they were soon rocked by the AIDS crisis and lost friends from the gay community. 

Greg and Leigh © BBC
Leigh with his late partner Greg

Tragically, Greg discovered he was HIV positive and passed away after a short illness in March 1989, just 20 days before his 30th birthday. 

Opening up about losing his partner, Leigh said: "It was very emotional. It was friends that got you through. It's been quite a journey."

Leigh Barss on The Repair Shop© BBC
Leigh's partner died in 1989

Speaking about the chair, which had become cracked and faded in colour, he continued: "Having the love of your life leave you after six years and still knowing that you've got something there that you did together and those memories. So if you can bring it back to anything like it was…"

After working her magic on the chair, Sonnaz invited Leigh back into the barn for the big reveal. Leigh was amazed by the incredible transformation. Watch the heartwarming moment below. 

WATCH: Repair Shop guest Leigh is amazed by incredible restoration

"That's beautiful," he said. "That must have taken a hell of a long time to do that. It's fantastic."

Jay Blades, Leigh Barss, Sonnaz Nooranvary and Greg's Armchair© Ricochet
Leigh was amazed by Sonnaz Nooranvary's work on the chair

Sitting down in the chair, Leigh explained how the newly restored item had brought back memories from his time with Greg. "It's kind of indescribable really - all the memories, all the immense amount of love."

He went on to say: "It's just bringing back all those memories of all those years. It was just so unfair that he was taken away so early, the one person who I really loved.

Leigh Barss' chair on The Repair Shop© BBC
The chair holds memories of Leigh's time with Greg

"A whole history is in that chair, from start to finish. Now the story goes on, the chair goes on," he added.

Viewers were left reaching for the tissues over the moving story, with one person writing: "Catching up on the new episode of  #TheRepairShop Oh, god, no... the chair... I'm already crying," while another penned: "I'm not emotionally stable enough for this."

A third person added: "Yep, I can tell this is going to break me," while another was left "bawling". 

Others praised Sonnaz's incredible work on the chair, with one person writing: "That armchair looks so damn good. Another Sonnaz triumph," while another hailed the item as "beautiful".

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