Unexpected festive presents were the order of the day at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where mums and dads welcomed Christmas Day babies.

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By 2pm yesterday, seven special new arrivals had made their entrance into the world at the hospital, the first little boy being delivered at 12.50am.

But another baby girl did not hang on quite long enough to make it to the Colney hospital.

Little Ripley Howes ended up being born in an ambulance en route to the hospital, with her mum having been determined not to miss out on her other little girl opening her Christmas presents.

Mum Bianca Dye, 30, from Sprowston, started feeling Labour pains at about 1am on Christmas morning. But, having already had daughter Skye two-and-a-half years ago, she thought she had a bit more time on her side than turned out to be the case.

She said: “I waited as long as I could because I wanted to see my little girl open her birthday presents, so we ended up on our way down to the hospital at 4am.

“But my waters broke in Sweet Briar Road while we were in the car. An ambulance came and pretty much as soon as I got into it, Ripley shot out.” Weighing in at 6lb 8oz, Ripley was born at 4.55am.

Hairdresser Ms Dye, whose partner Andrew Howes, 33, works as a mechanic for ATS, said she had managed to open one of her Christmas gifts before making the dash to the hospital.

She said: “I opened a box of chocolates, but I’ve had pregnancy diabetes, so I couldn’t eat them anyway! Skye got to open a couple of her presents before we came away. Her nanny has been looking after her and says she’s so pleased with those that she’s happy to wait to open the others.”

Had Ripley not come when she did, she could have been sharing another easy to remember birthday with her mother. Ms Dye, was born on New Year’s Day and had been scheduled to be induced on that very day.

Katrina Hopcroft also welcomed a Christmas Day arrival. Her little girl, who was born at 7.04am weighing 8lbs 10oz, will have plenty of siblings to play with - she was the seventh child for Mrs Hopcroft, 37, and her husband Craig, 39, who works as an HGV driver.

Their new daughter, who has yet to be given a name, will soon meet brothers and sisters Dale, 19, Cooper, 13, Payten, 12, Carter, nine, Ashten, seven and Devon, three.

Of having a Christmas Day baby, she said: “It’s difficult in that you are not at home with the children. That’s the hard part. They haven’t opened their presents yet and especially for Devon that’s been really difficult. But we’ll have Christmas Day when I’m home on Boxing Day.

“But it’s a nice way to say we have had seven children and there won’t be any more - she’s the grand finale!”

She said her husband was back home in Dereham making sure their new arrival’s hungry brothers and sisters were fed.

Mrs Hopcroft said: “He’s been on the phone asking me how long things have to be in for. I’m glad we’ve got some frozen Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings.”

Claire Riches, 26, who lives near Wymondham, had her and 30-year-old partner Kristofer Beaumont’s first child - Stephen John Beaumont, at 3.56am on Christmas Day. She said it was nice to have her son, who weighed 8lb 5oz, on such a special day.

Katherine Mace, 31, of Keswick Hall, near Norwich, had her 6lbs 5oz Christmas Day baby, named Alice Rose, at 2.57am.

Supply teacher Ms Mace, whose partner Kevin Mundy, 37, teaches at East Point Academy at Lowestoft, said her first child had been due on December 29, but her early appearance meant she had become “the best Christmas present ever”.

It was a typically early start to Christmas for Philippa Snow and fiancé Scott Mirgaux when their seven-year-old son Ryley woke bright and early to open his presents.

Hairdresser Ms Snow, 30, tried to usher him back to bed at 4.30am but any hopes of a lie-in were shattered when her waters broke.

Ryley was dropped off with grandparents as they rushed from their home in Ellough Road, Beccles, to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

Ms Snow said: “Ryley was really good and did just what he was told but I feel really sorry for him.

“He took some of his presents with him but did not even have the chance to open a lot of them.”

Their second child, Louie, was delivered by midwives at 9.40am weighing 8lb 8.5oz – and had the distinction of being the first Christmas Day baby at the hospital.

Ms Snow said: “Louie was due to arrive on Saturday so I was not expecting this at Christmas.”

Mr Mirgaux, 34, who works as an aerial fitter for Waveney Aeriels in Lowestoft, said: “This is certainly going to be a Christmas that we always remember.”

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