Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea replaces guitar stolen from Canadian veteran

(L-R) Veteran Ed Sheppard and frontman of Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle, pose with a brand new guitar, in 2018. Aaron Small / The Canadian Press

Earlier in December, a treasured guitar was stolen from the hands of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) vet Edward Sheppard. The 82-year-old was left in shock and grief after realizing it had gone missing — it was gifted to him by his late wife, Theresa, and holds great significance for him.

Newfoundlander comedian and actor, Mark Critch, made the story viral after sharing it to Twitter. He launched a campaign to find a replacement guitar for Sheppard, in hopes to have him playing again before Christmas.

Only half an hour later, Great Big Sea frontman and recent member of the Order of Canada, Alan Doyle, reached out to Critch humbly offering his own instrument. “I got one he can have for sure,” the fellow Newfoundlander wrote on Twitter.

Mark Critch attends ‘The Grand Seduction’ Toronto premiere at Scotiabank on May 14, 2014, in Toronto. George Pimentel/WireImage

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Sheppard resides in Stephenville Crossing, N.L. His daughter Yolanda shared his story in an interview with the CBC, detailing that the gift was a “labour of love” after Sheppard’s wife saved up for years to afford his guitar.

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“It was one of the last things my mom gave to him before she passed away from cancer,” she said. “She rolled a lot of change to save it.”

“He doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it,” she added. “But he is very sad because it means a lot to him.”

Critch was quick to spring into action. He reached out to all of his “musician friends” in a simple tweet.

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After offering his own guitar, Doyle set out the next morning to deliver it by hand to the unaware veteran.

The 49-year-old shared a few pictures of the two jamming out together clad with wide grins. “Hope you get your stolen guitar back. This one should keep you going until then,” he wrote.

Doyle even added a quick video clip featuring Sheppard whistling a tune along with the guitar. “He’s still got it, too,” he added. “Well done Mr. Sheppard, what a Gent. Thanks to Mark Critch for kickstarting such a lovely gathering.”

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The younger Sheppard revealed she was grateful for the prompt and generous responses to her story, but she wasn’t surprised by their kind acts. “Being a good Newfoundland girl, I always tell everyone: ‘It’s what we do,'” she admitted.

“We always come together to help out each other and help everyone that we can. It doesn’t surprise me whatsoever, not a bit,” she added.

“It has filled my heart with joy to hear the excitement in my dad’s voice again,” she concluded with relief.

Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea performs on Day 9 of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest on July 12, 2013, in Ottawa. Mark Horton/WireImage

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While Sheppard is “very, very excited” to be strumming again, his daughter admitted she has hopes that the stolen guitar finds its way back to him, especially because of its sentimental value.

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When asked what Sheppard thought of the famous Canadian folk singer, she revealed he described Doyle as “a nice fella.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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