Christmas reunion at Drayton Manor Park
It started out as a fun day trip to a Midlands theme park.
But Abby Gibson and her two sons were unexpectedly reunited with their military father for the first time in four months – and just in time for Christmas.
Abby visited Drayton Manor Park's Magical Christmas with her mother Ann Holden and two sons Declan, 11, and seven-year-old Connor.
Her husband Chris Gibson, aged 36, was due home after four months stationed in the Falklands.
Abby had secretly arranged a surprise reunion for her two children who were desperate to see their dad home for Christmas.
After popping into Santa's Grotto Chris, who has been in the RAF for around 16 years, surprised his boys.
Chris and Abby have been married for eight years and first met while working abroad in Cyprus.
Last year they moved out of married quarters on barracks to buy their first home together.
Over the past four months, Chris has missed milestones including Declan’s first day at high school, Connor’s first day at junior school and his wedding anniversary.
Abby said: “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."
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.”