By Rebecca Cooley
A mum and daughter have dressed up in hilarious dinosaur suits to hug their grandparents after 12 months apart.
Becky Stevens, 40, and her eight-year-old daughter Esme, invited Becky’s parents round to their garden for a socially distanced meeting last week [Friday 16] after the restriction on two households meeting outdoors was lifted.
The mother and daughter duo from Goodworth Clatford, Hampshire, decided to surprise grandparents John Buddell, 70, and Penny Buddell, 69, in the dino suits as Esme’s dad, Dan Stevens, filmed their reaction.
The suits acted as comedic hazmat suits, creating a barrier between the loved ones and allowing them to enjoy a Covid-safe hug after a year of no contact.
Becky said: “We’re really close to my parents so it was heart-breaking not seeing them for that long.
“Not being able to go and have that hug when you’re feeling down has been horrible.
“When we saw them on Friday it was just amazing – Esme was over the moon.
“They knew I had a dinosaur suit but they didn’t know Esme did too – they thought it was hilarious.
“To realise we could hug each other was just lovely. It was a very special moment.”
The family have been strictly adhering to government Covid guidelines for the duration of the pandemic, as a family with serious health conditions that put them at high risk if they caught the virus.
John has a weak heart after suffering a heart attack when he was younger which has seen him in and out of hospital throughout lockdown and he also has dementia, making his wife Penny his full time carer.
Penny has severe asthma which also puts her at high risk and forced the pair to completely shield for the last year, not even leaving the house for food shopping which they got delivered.
Becky said: “My parents have been through hell in the past 30 years.
“My dad had a heart attack at 39 – when I was nine-years-old – and since then he has been a very poorly man.
“Doctors didn’t know what caused it but said it might have been stress because he used to be a police officer – he never drank or smoked, he was a completely fit and healthy man.
“We’ve been really worried about my dad because he’s had so many different complications – he’s been in hospital so many times throughout lockdown because of his heart.
“My mum hasn’t been allowed to go with him so it’s been incredibly hard not knowing what’s going on after he’s blue-lighted to hospital.”
Becky is also considered high risk due to having had open heart surgery in 2002 after doctors discovered she was born with the rare, one in 100,000 heart condition, Scimitar Syndrome.
The potentially life-threatening condition meant that her right lung wasn’t properly connected to her heart and risked creating pulmonary hypertension – high blood pressure which could damage the affected side of her heart.
The self-employed business owner offers music lessons as part of her services and doctors believe her interest in playing the trumpet from a young age played a part in disguising her condition.
Becky said: “I was born with a heart condition called Scimitar Syndrome which wasn’t picked up until I was 21-years-old.
“My right lung wasn’t connected to my heart properly so six weeks later I had to have open heart surgery – it’s one of those conditions where I could’ve just dropped dead at any time if we hadn’t found out about it.
“I’ve played the trumpet since I was eight-years-old which hid it because it made my other lung strong enough to function on it’s own.
“We’ve been through a lot as a family but we’re stronger because of it.”
After 12 months worrying about each other and shielding for their own safety during the pandemic, being reunited and able to share a hug meant the world to this family.
The Covid-friendly dinosaur suits also brought some light-hearted fun to the emotional moment.
Becky said: “I already had my dinosaur costume from a photoshoot for a wedding where we dressed up and I bought the pink one for my daughter for a bit of fun.
“While my parents were in the back garden the postman came and it was Esme’s dinosaur suit.
“I called her in and said let’s put these on and hug grandma and grandad – she was so excited.
“I knew the costume had been in the post for over 72 hours so it was Covid safe.
“It was a lot of fun. It was something we didn’t think we’d be able to do for a long time.”