What started out as simply a fun day trip to Drayton Manor Park’s Magical Christmas, turned out to be a very special day for a mother and her two little boys, who were unexpectedly reunited with their military father, just in time for Christmas.

Armed forces wife Abby Gibson, visited the much-loved Staffordshire attraction with her mother, Ann Holden, and two sons, Declan, aged 11 and Connor, aged 7 on Saturday 18th November.

With her husband Chris Gibson, aged 36, due home after four months stationed in the Falklands, Abby had secretly arranged a surprise reunion for her two children who have wanted nothing more than to see their Dad home for Christmas.

Chris has been in the RAF for approximately 16 years and has been married to Abby for eight years. Abby first met Chris whilst working abroad in Cyprus. Last year they moved out of married quarters on barracks to buy their first home together in Gloucester, to settle their little boys into school on a permanent basis. Now, Declan is in year 7 at Churchdown Academy and Connor is in year 3 at Longlevens Junior School.

Over the past four months, Chris has missed many a milestone whilst serving, including Declan’s first day at high school, Connor’s first day at junior school and his wedding anniversary.

“All I’ve wanted is a hug from Chris and today was the most magical experience. I couldn’t be happier for us all to be reunited once again,” said Abby.

Chris said: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I was very nervous waiting to see them; when I saw the boys in with Father Christmas my heart was racing. I’ve missed them so much and when Abby started crying, I started crying! It was extremely emotional and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be home.”

Abby added, “The kids had no idea. They knew that their Dad was coming home at some point in November but I never told them the exact date as I wanted it to be a surprise. Chris has been away for such a long time so I did feel nervous in the run up. Now he’s back it’s just amazing.”

Talking about his plans for Christmas, Chris said, “I’m not sure when I’ll have to return to the Falklands so we’re planning to make the most of every second as a family. We’re going to relax in front of some classic Christmas movies, enjoy our tradition of baking cookies and mince pies on Christmas Eve and of course track Father Christmas before bed!”

William Bryan, Managing Director at Drayton Manor Park commented: “We do all we can at the park to help families create fun and lasting memories. Throughout the season we welcome local military heroes offering free entry and we were delighted to help out on this occasion. The day was wonderful and we wish them all well for a very merry Christmas.”