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  • British Airways celebrates its birthday with Mary Parsons, a fellow 99-year-old
  • Activity taking place at Heathrow to mark the airline’s birthday including 99 ice creams, a marching band and staff in heritage uniforms

One 99-year-old kicked off her milestone birthday celebrations early after British Airways surprised her with a very special trip.

Mary Parsons from Malvern in Worcestershire turns 100 years old on January 1, 2019, the same year that the airline also celebrates its centenary. British Airways ambassador, Derek Tennant, surprised Mary at her ‘Friends of the Elderly’ care home in Davenham and revealed that he was taking her to Belfast to see her family.

Born just 51 days after World War I ended, Mary grew up in Monaghan, 70 miles south of Belfast, yet left when she was 18-years-old to move to England and become a nurse.

See Mary’s return to Belfast below:

Given the VIP treatment by Derek and accompanied every step of the way by her carer, Ellie Bannister, Mary was met at the airport by her nephew Ciaran and his wife Noelle, and niece Margaret and her husband Anthony, before spending the weekend in Belfast.

Mary said: “It was a great adventure and beyond my wildest dreams. I had a truly wonderful time. British Airways treated me like royalty throughout the whole journey and then meeting my family after all this time was the icing on the cake! It was fantastic to see them all again – we shared wonderful memories together and it was like a trip down memory lane. I never thought I would get to do this aged 99 but it just shows that anything is possible!”

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© Image British Airways

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “From one 99-year-old to another, we are so pleased we could help Mary get back to Ireland to see her family ahead of her 100th birthday. It’s an incredibly exciting time for all of us at British Airways as we look ahead to our centenary and taking the airline into its next chapter.”

Ellen Bannister, Mary’s carer of six years, said: “It was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad that I could be a part of the adventure. It was really emotional watching Mary meet her family again. You could just tell by their expressions that they were delighted to see her, and they just couldn’t believe that she had flown over to meet them! They shared photos and exchanged memories, it was a beautiful day. British Airways were fantastic, and they made Mary feel incredibly special.”

On Saturday, August 25, customers celebrating their birthday and their travel companions was invited to use the airline’s First lounge, accessed through the First Wing. The celebrations haven’t stopped there, as the airline is also giving customers ‘99 ice creams’ to mark the occasion, while a marching band performs for onlookers. British Airways staff are also wearing uniforms from across the airline’s history.

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© Image British Airways

© Image British Airways