Guys, to those of you who replied - Many Thanks.
The outcome of this was technically bad. We got Kroll Ontrack on the case using remote recovery but no joy at all. The data was unrecoverable.
However as a result of my efforts on this the business owner offered me a service centre space, right in the middle of his heavily trafficed computer sales section (electrical shop, think Dixons/Best Buy) free of charge. He wants us to set up as business partners. I don't put anything out except my expertise and tools, he puts out space, utilites, insurance and advertising. 50/50 split on profits with my existing business remaining completely seperate from the new one, although I can run it from the new place if I so wish. Plans are well underway, I should be in by months end.
There's a saying over here about the guy who's always lucky - "He'd fall into a bucket of sh1t and get out in a white suit" - that's how I feel at the moment