Birthday celebrations reached new heights when the Kearns family from Wigan celebrated grandad Tony’s 80th.
Not for Tony an Uber or a lift there from a non-drinking relative: his three sons, Tony Jnr, Chris and Steve, laid on a helicopter to get him to a surprise party for 150 friends and family at Holland Hall Hotel, Up Holland.
“It’s fair to say that my dad wasn’t expecting this, and, with the help of the helicopter pilot, we also managed to hide the real purpose of what was going on until dad realised the crowd waving at the helicopter as it landed were not interested bystanders, but family and friends,” said Tony Jnr, a railway construction company executive.
"We kept it quiet until we arrived at City Airport, Manchester, then told him we were going on a little helicopter flight, then the pilot suggested we maybe stop off and stretch our legs - where dad eventually realised what was going on when we landed.
“When Holland Hall Hotel owner Bill Kenyon collected him from the landing area in his Bentley to go across to the hotel that might have been the icing on the cake - but that was just the start of it.
“Dinner and drinks for 150, with music from a brilliant band called The SixTies - it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime evenings.
“That my dad doesn’t know his age added to it, and not content with arriving from a height, he then also took to leading the dancing on the chairs to keep the theme going.”
Birthday boy Tony said: “I’ve been lucky enough to fly in helicopters a couple of times, but this was very unexpected.
“The family kept it quiet until the last moment, and then kept the party quiet until after we’d
“I was on a high when we flew in, but it was such a great birthday that I remained on a high - whether dancing on a chair or not - until home time,” said Tony Snr from Winstanley.
After the party, hotel owner Bill Kenyon said: “We love this sort of thing, whether organising it or participating in it.
“But it was also an opportunity to christen the hotel’s helicopter landing facility, which, hopefully, will be responsible for giving many more birthday celebrants or brides and grooms an equally high old time.”