Families are reunited for Christmas at Norwich International Airport

The past year may have had its ups and downs – around the world as well as closer to home – but now it's the time of year when we can concentrate on what really matters: spending time with the ones we love at Christmas.

The world may seem bleak at times, even in our own beloved city, but at Norwich International Airport yesterday there was plenty of happiness in the air.

The arrivals gate at the airport was thronging with local families waiting to be reunited for festive celebrations.

The first of many people eagerly awaiting the 9.15am service from Amsterdam – a connecting flight to Norwich from all over the world – were mother and son June and Darren Ferguson, aged 53 and 34.

They were waiting for husband and father Dave, 54, who works three months on and three weeks off in Saudi Arabia, a pattern he has been used to for the last eight years.

They were delighted to have him home in time to enjoy the festivities at their Catton home with the rest of the family.

Mrs Ferguson said: 'It's a bit lucky really that his shifts mean he could be home for Christmas, but we are really pleased. It is hard at times when he's away, but you get used to it.'

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Also making an early start was 22-year-old Sophie Parker, from Ormesby, near Great Yarmouth. She was waiting to greet her father, John, 61, who had been working away in the gas industry in Nigeria.

She said: 'He works one month on and one month off and has done most of my life. He worked last Christmas so it's nice to have him home this year.

'We've got all the family coming over for Christmas and then we are going away to go skiing in Colorado in America on Boxing Day.'

The most anxious face in the arrivals lounge, however, was that of 37-year-old Mark Harman who had not seen his wife and six-month-old baby daughter for four months.

The American trainee doctor at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for more than two years had to wait until last for his family to walk into the lounge, sparking some emotional hugs and kisses.

Mum Sara, 36, and baby Madison had flown in from the family home in Atlanta in the United States and Mr Harman, who lives off Prince of Wales Road in Norwich, was already talking about enjoying a Christmas with their own special twist.

He said: 'We'll be eating a traditional meatball recipe that my family always eat on Christmas Day that my grandfather got from a Scandinavian friend.

'I'm just looking forward to spending time with them though.'

Has your family had a special reunion this Christmas? Contact David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk