A Scottish family got the best present they could have wished for this Christmas – their dad coming home.
Royal Engineer Jimmy Preston – who has been in the army for 13 years – was originally told he wouldn't make it home by Christmas.
He was meant to be in the middle of a seven-month tour with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards until April.
But the Irvine dad-of-three phoned his wife Claire and told her he’d be home for December 15, so they got to work on making a plan to surprise little Emma, Brooke and Leland, reports the Daily Record.
They planned to go to Santa’s Grotto at Riverside Lodge Hotel in Irvine, organised by C&J Party Hire, but the kids had no idea their dad would also be there.
Claire filmed the special moment as dad Jimmy appeared from behind Santa’s chair with the kids overwhelmingly excited to see him.
The video was a big hit online, and Claire and Jimmy were both delighted with the reaction.
Claire told the Irvine Herald: “We were told there would be no leave, meaning he wouldn’t be home until April.
“So the kids were prepared for him coming home then, but he got given an earlier date.
“He missed Christmas two years ago, so the kids knew how it felt and they were preparing for it again.
“It wasn’t nice that year, so it was a great surprise for him to come home this time.
“He phoned me and said that he should be home before Christmas.
“We decided not to tell the kids, because it may have ended up that he still had to stay.
“So we kept it a secret just in case.
“We had a think about how we were going to reveal it to the kids, so we decided that Santa’s Grotto was a good idea.
“I contacted Riverside Lodge Hotel in Irvine and it was C&J Party Hire who organised the grotto.
“We told them our idea and they loved it, they helped plan it all.
“The kids thought they were just going to see Santa, so when Jimmy appeared it was amazing.
“They cried, but they were so happy.
“They were over the moon, but they were so shocked – it was so lovely to see that reaction.”
And Claire says the feedback she has had from friends has been wonderful.
She said: “The reaction on social media has been amazing.
“Lots of people have been sharing and liking it, it’s wonderful.”
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