Stan Beaton had one piece of comfort to turn to after his beloved wife, Ruby, passed away in 2003: an outgoing voice message she had left on his phone 14 years ago.
Every time he felt down, he would listen to it and it had become a way for him to remember and feel connected to her.
“In the early days [I listened to it] quite often. Basically, it came to the point when if I felt low then I would listen to it” the 68-year-old told BBC Radio.
He held on to it so dearly, he stayed with the same phone company for years.
“I’ve always resisted changing companies because whenever I mentioned that my wife’s voice was our voicemail message and would it be retained and each company said no, so that’s why I never changed.”
So you can imagine the pain, hurt and anger he must have experienced last December when the message was deleted following upgrades by Virgin Media.
“In December I learned that it had disappeared. I just could not tell people how it affected me at that time. It really did devastate me” he explained.
He thought he had lost it forever.
When Virgin Media got wind of Beaton’s story, the company decided to right the wrong. A team of 10 engineers set out on the seemingly impossible task of recovering the voicemail. Rob Evans, the executive director of engineering at the company likened it to searching for a needle in a haystack, saying the “chances of its recovery were slim.”
But three days of searching finally yielded a full recovery. Beaton was given the good news and they recorded his reaction to listening to the voicemail he thought was gone forever.
“It’s just a wonderful, wonderful sound that I thought was lost forever,” he said.
Check it out above, but first make sure you have your tissues handy. You’re going to need them.