By Dan Coles
A film-loving mum spent thousands converting an old helicopter into a home cinema for her and her 11-year-old son.
Mum-of-one and PA Maria Merry, 46, and son Freddie, 11, impulse bought the decommissioned chopper for £950 from the Helicopter
Museum in Weston-super-Mare in 2017 after visiting the attraction on a day trip.
The huge vehicle was then airlifted to their home in Chippenham, Wilts, and placed in the garage before Maria and Freddie spent the next several weeks transforming it – something that cost £10,000.
Now, any time the pair want to enjoy a movie they can snuggle up in their very own home cinema complete with secret minibar, sofa bed, smoke machine, custom sound effects and sweet dispenser.
Maria said: “When I spotted the helicopter after being on the day out I knew straight away that I had to buy it.
“It was a bargain price and as I’ve always had a creative side, everyone has been so amazed when they’ve seen it.
“I took one look at it and said yes, if it fits in the garage we’re having it. I love aviation, fast cars, anything like that.
“The £10,000 spent to transform it was inheritance from my nan, Rose Billard, after she died three years ago and she made me promise I would spend it on something special.
“It’s like a mini personal club. It has a secret minibar, sofa bed, smoke machine, custom sound effects and sweet dispenser, my son Freddie loves it.”
Back in 2017, Maria and her son were visiting Western-super-Mare on a day trip when they saw the helicopter advertised inside Westerns Helicopter Museum.
Maria said: “Freddie spotted a picture of the helicopter for sale and jokingly said can we buy it.
“I asked at the counter and they took us around the back, I took one look at it and said yes, we’re having it.
“My son said he was only joking, I said I’m not.”
After purchasing the helicopter, it stayed in the museum for 12 months while Maria measured her garage to work out how they were going to fit the extravagant item in their three bedroom home.
But once the chopper made it to its destination, the refurb was spread over 16 weeks where Maria, her friends, and her Facebook helpers did everything themselves.
The renovation became even more prudent after Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces got in touch after she had emailed them a picture to see if they would be interested to feature her on their next series.
Maria decided to turn this renovation into a project for her and son Freddie and despite spending a small fortune on kitting out the helicopter – the mother of one claims it was worth every penny.
Maria said: “I posted on Facebook asking for help with the project and the response was amazing.
“Over the whole entire thing, including labour and parts I’ve spent about £10,000.
“I had left the money in the bank for a year until I had something special to buy.
“It’s fantastic, such a cool play area, for kids and grownups.”
The home cinema helicopter comes complete with smoke machines, sound effects, a pull down projector, mini fridge, sofa bed and a sweet dispenser.
Maria said: “Some people saw it in such a state, but to see if transformed has been really nice for me to show everyone.
“I’ve always had a creative side, I can’t draw but I love design.
“If you buy something and change your mind you can return it, but if you don’t and it’s gone, you can’t go back.
“When the garage door opens and you see it, it makes it so worthwhile.”