Sheffield artist creates incredible tattoo of baby meeting her great-grandfather just before he died

A loving grandson has had the moment his baby daughter first met her great-grandfather, just months before he died, immortalised as a tattoo in Sheffield.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 8:47 am

John Harper sadly died of cancer on his 70th birthday last November but held on long enough to meet his great-granddaughter Elsie, who will turn one next month, is the first girl in the family since John’s sister and is named after his late wife.

John’s grandson Macauley Harper treasures his photo of that emotional first union, showing John gazing adoringly at little Elsie as he cradles her in his arms, so much that he has had it turned into a tattoo.

Macauley spent nine hours on Saturday, June 19 getting his left arm inked by master tattooist Maftei Catalin at the renowned Redemption Tattoo Studio on Ecclesall Road in Broomhall – and the result is amazing.

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Macualey Harper's tattoo and the photo of his grandfather John meeting baby Elsie (pic: Redemption Tattoo Studio)
Macualey Harper's tattoo and the photo of his grandfather John meeting baby Elsie (pic: Redemption Tattoo Studio)

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“John was such a big part of my life. I lived with him for 15 years after my mum and dad split up, and we were so close,” he said.

“When my fiance Emily and I found out we were having a baby, not long after my grandad was diagnosed with cancer, I was hoping and hoping he would get to meet her, and I’m so happy he did.

“Despite how poorly he was at the end, whenever we took Elsie round his face would light up with an unreal smile. He was so proud.

Macauley Harper and his fiance Emily, who plan to tie the knot in July

“Elsie will never know her great-grandad but we’ll always have that photo of them together and it’s so beautiful I wanted to get it turned into a tattoo.

“I’m so pleased with how it’s turned out. Maftei’s done an incredible job and everyone in the family says it’s just like looking at the photo.”

Beneath the photo in the tattoo is a moving poem in Macauley’s own handwriting, which reads:

John Harper's eyes would light up every time he saw his great-granddaughter Elsie, says Macauley

“Those we love don’t stay

“They walk beside us every day

“Unseen unheard but always near

“Still loved still missed & held so dear.”

Macauley plans to get another tattoo showing one of the lorries from his grandfather's coal and haulage business

Macauley, 25, plans to complete the tribute to John by getting his inner bicep tattooed next with an image of one of the lorries from his late grandfather’s business, John Harper and Sons Coal and Haulage, which was based in Thorne.