Hi, bleeper's friend here. Here's the situation as I understand it
HDD1's partition table somehow got corrupted, its an old drive on its last legs.
HDD1 was the primary partition, HDD2 was data. He took it to a high street pc repair shop and they installed a new copy of windows over hdd2, replacing its contents. from the hdd2 boot, i have guided him in recovering the partition with testdisk (useful tool, i used to have to manually calculate sectors and CHS and edit the partition table with ptedit32).
It seems he had a small boot/OEM/recovery partition and a main windows partition (primary NTFS) but it thought he had the recovery partition and an empty extended partition and 2 fat16 partitions at the end, so we've got access to that hard drive again...
unfortunatley it looks like in order to protect his data from a drive failure, he kept the my documents, desktop folder etc on HDD2 (probably moved at my advice years ago). the pc shop has overwritten this with a new windows partition. I'm not 100% sure it was on there though.
SO now the issue is what (preferably free) software is there that can recover deleted files from an NTFS partition even after windows has been installed on it (should be still some files if it was only a quick format)