Heartwarming reunion of Bedford NHS worker and her mother after 22 Christmases apart


For some families, it’s not always plain sailing when it comes to spending Christmas with their nearest and dearest.

Lorraine Kirby, a former Bedford-based Nurse Advisor at NHS Direct, has been unable to spend Christmas with her mum, June O’Brien and her family for more than two decades.

June lives in Dublin, and Lorraine’s nursing shifts have meant that she hasn’t been able to fit in a flying visit to Ireland for the festive season for 22 years.

Their story was discovered after Thorntons asked the British public to enter a competition whereby they could nominate a family member they’d like to reunite with this Christmas over a virtual reality experience. Little did they know, that the reunion would feel more real than they could ever imagine.

Hidden cameras show the Christmas miracle unfold as June is told to take her virtual reality goggles off as there is a ‘technical issue’. Much to her surprise, her family are standing in front of her when she does.

The wonderful moment when June took off the VR goggles…

Competition winner, June O’Brien commented “I certainly was not expecting to take the virtual reality goggles off and see my lovely daughter and her family standing there.

“It was a big shock. But a great one. I am so grateful, that for the first time in 22 years we will be able to spend Christmas together. What a dream come true.”

Lorraine said, “It was great planning this surprise for my mum and I am so pleased that we pulled it off. The look of surprise and elation on her face when she saw us standing there is the best gift I could have this Christmas. A huge thank you to Thorntons for making this happen.”

Ian Tweedale, Marketing Director of Thorntons said, “We’re so pleased to have been able to reunite families and help them ‘Pass The Love On’ through our Continental Journeys Competition again, making their Christmas dreams come true.

“The Continental Journeys Competition brings to life what our charity partner SSAFA, does. SSAFA supports our servicemen and women, veterans and their families at this time of the year and all year round when their loved ones are away.

“We are both united in recognising that together or apart, Christmas is all about families showing each other that they care.”

A donation of sales of all Thorntons Continental products sold in Thorntons owned stores and on the Thorntons website will go directly to SSAFA.

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