A family’s Christmas wish was granted when an RAF serviceman surprised his daughters by greeting them as they met Father Christmas.
Alan Clough, an airman based at RAF Marham, made his unexpected reappearance while his daughters, Ellie-Rose, eight, and Amelia, two, were meeting Santa at the Center Parcs Elvedon Forest resort, near Brandon.
His wife, Leanne, said she had been worried about how the children might react, particularly as Alan has spent a lot of Amelia’s short life away from home.
But she added: “It was really nice. It was quite emotional.”
Alan, who has been in the RAF for the past 11 years, had returned to Britain earlier than expected following a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where British forces have now ended their operations after a 13 year campaign.
He had initially been expected to remain there until into next year.
However, instead of telling their daughters he was coming home early when they found out he was returning early, he and Leanne contacted Center Parcs to arrange the reunion, which took place in the resort’s Santa Woodland Workshop, during the family’s break there.
And, although Alan managed to return home just before last Christmas, Leanne said the reunion marked the start of a proper festive celebration for the family, complete with growing excitement for the children.
She added: “Dad can do no wrong at the moment.”
A spokesman for the resort said: “We were touched they had chosen us as the setting for the wonderful surprise and couldn’t wait to help.”
The family are now preparing for the new year in which they expect Amelia to have a number of stays at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London.
She suffers from a rare condition knows as congenital hyperinsulinism, which is caused by the excessive secretion of insulin.
Although milder cases can be treated through more frequent feeding or through medication, the most severe cases can require surgery. The condition can also cause damage to other major organs.
Great Ormond Street is one of only a handful of facilities in the world which currently has the expertise to treat the condition.
And, following his return from action abroad, Alan now expects to be at home while Amelia undergoes treatment.
“He won’t be going anywhere next year”, Leanne said.