A TV presenter allegedly ‘demanding a refund’ of his daughter’s tuition fees after she got a school motto tattoo says his comments were ‘tongue-in-cheek’.
David Harper, known for BBC’s Antiques Road Trip, found himself at the centre of an online storm after tweeting the school his daughter, Hetti, 23, attended.
In a post, he said since she’s trying to be a rockstar and has a tattoo of Barnard Castle School’s motto across her chest, ‘Any chance of a school fees refund for advertising?’.
Here's my daughter Hetti Harper
Classically trained by your music dept & she was also your head of choir
She's now becoming a rock star & she's tattooed the Barney school motto across her chest!
Any chance of a school fees refund for advertising? Thanks https://t.co/dFsuzVn8oe
— David Harper (@DavidHarperTV) August 13, 2019
The tattoo reads: ‘Parvis imbutus tentabis grandia tutus’, which means, ‘When you are steeped in little things, you shall safely attempt great things.’
While fans of David laughed along online, some saying ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’, multiple news outlets have run the story saying he’s demanding a refund of the full £200,000 he’d forked out over the years for Hetti’s education. David isn’t too bothered though; in fact, he says ‘it’s fantastic really’.
In an exclusive interview with UNILAD, David explained the story before it all took off:
What happened was, Hetti and I have had issues with tattoos for years since she started getting tattoos. For the past three or four years she’s been getting more and more up her arm into a bit of a sleeve.
Her mother and I have been dealing with it and it’s all okay, we perfectly get it. One day I went down to London – because she’s in London, I’m in the north and I see her regularly – and when I see her I always try to scan her body looking for a new tattoo she hasn’t mentioned.
But this time I didn’t have to scan anything, it was smacking me right in the face right across her chest.
David was initially dumbfounded. ‘Of all the places to get a tattoo, what the hell are you doing? What does it even mean? What does it say?’ he asked Hetti, who then explained it was her old school motto – which didn’t help matters, until her dad had an idea.
David told UNILAD:
We had a bit of a fall out but you know, we’re used to it, we have a great relationship.
About a week or so later, I just had this idea. I thought maybe, actually, I should just go back to the school and say: ‘Look, do you effectively want to sponsor her – and give back some of the school fees I put on the credit card?’ to see what their response was, which was not positive [laughs].
It was then David tweeted the school directly, which has sparked some backlash. One user wrote: ‘So a guy that can afford £15000 a year wants money back for something he didn’t do? If anything it should go to the daughter for the advertising not the dad.’
But it’s been misinterpreted, according to David. He wasn’t looking for a full refund – he was looking for a sponsorship deal to help his daughter’s career, and he credits the school for inspiring her.
I kind of half tongue-in-cheek asked for a refund, or some money back.
Hetti says she put the motto on her chest because she thinks the school played a fundamental part in the development of her music and her voice – and I can’t do anything but admit she’s absolutely right.
The school spotted the talent and the school trained her to sing, and she got free singing lessons right through school. I admit she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing now if it weren’t for the school. But my argument is, if it weren’t for me paying the blinking fees, they would have never discovered the talent.
David is keen to assure people that he and Hetti have a ‘lovely relationship’, and the war over tattoos is just a fixture of their dynamic. He added that he’s nearly been swayed by his daughter on a couple of occasions to get inked, who says it’ll help him ‘be cooler’.
UNILAD also spoke to Hetti, who was shocked after the story seemed to ‘circulate out of nowhere’, and commented that there seems to be a lot of guesswork going on rather than actually talking to her and David.
Hetti told UNILAD:
It’s all come as a bit of a shock to me. My dad did mention this idea when he first saw the tattoo, he said: ‘Oh that’s it I’m going to contact the school.’
Obviously, I saw that as just the sort of thing he’s going to say. I didn’t even know he’d tweeted them to be honest with you – until I woke up yesterday morning, pretty hungover, with loads of people messaging me saying: ‘What on earth’s happened?’
There’s a lot of stuff I’ve read it seems like people have kind of guessed rather than actually asking us.
Hetti attended Barnard Castle School from the age of five, where she was classically trained as a singer and became head of the school’s choir.
At the age of 18, she left school and moved to London to pursue her music career, forming her band Tiffany Twisted. Despite the warring with her dad, she’s very happy with all her tattoos, and hopes that something positive comes out of the attention they’ve been getting.
Obviously, if the school’s willing to do anything similar [to a sponsorship deal] I’d be very happy to go along with that, absolutely. I’m very interested to see what they do respond… we’ll keep an eye whether it continues to storm or not.
Tiffany Twisted are set to release their debut track Holes In Your Bones on the August 20 through Payne Records.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.