Couple forced to live 10,000 miles apart after a family tragedy reunited by British Airways

British Airways

A couple who were made to live 10,000 miles apart due to a family tragedy have been reunited by British Airways.

Lisa Harris and Hayley Angell were split between the UK and Australia for more than eight months following the death of Hayley’s father when the airline offered to bring them back together.

Hayley, who is originally from Australia, had been living in Glasgow with her new wife Lisa for a year-and-a-half when she received the devastating news that her father was suffering from terminal tongue cancer.

She immediately flew back to Australia to be with him and support her mother Debbie, who herself suffers from the degenerative condition Muscular Dystrophy.

Hayley left the UK on Valentine’s Day this year and had just over a month with her father before he passed away on 26 March.

She has remained there since, helping her mother sort through the family affairs, while Lisa has returned to her hometown of Derby with the couple’s dog, Hettie.

Though the couple resolved to stay together, they have found the distance difficult, prompting Lisa to write into British Airways’ BA Magic campaign in the hope of being reunited.

On reading her letter, the BA Magic team said they had to help the couple and set about working with Lisa, Debbie and Hayley’s boss, Mark, to arrange a surprise trip to London.

After weeks of secretive planning, British Airways cabin crew member Claire Allinson surprised Hayley at a conference she was attending and presented her with a pair of return business class tickets from Sydney to London for her and her mum.

Hayley was surprised with the gift at a conference after Lisa wrote to the BA Magic campaign explaining their situation

‘I got in touch with British Airways more out of hope than expectation,’ said Lisa.

‘I couldn’t believe it when they said they’d help us. The fact we could surprise Hayley and that Deb could come too, knowing she’d be comfortable and looked after on the flight, made it all the more special.

‘Hayley must have wondered what was wrong with me in the run-up to them arriving as I was constantly rushing off our frequent Facetime calls as I was so worried I’d give it away!’

Lisa greeted Hayley and Debbie at the airport with their dog Hettie before the trio set about sightseeing in the capital.

‘I barely slept a wink the night before they arrived and Hettie and I were at the airport bright and early waiting for the flight. It was so wonderful to see them both appear through arrivals and we had the most amazing time seeing friends and family, visiting Buckingham Palace, walking the gardens of Chatsworth House, touring villages with thatched roofs, savouring proper Cornish pasties and sipping champagne on the London Eye,’ said Lisa.

Hayley said that the gesture was particularly special because it was a trip her parents had hoped to take together.

‘I couldn’t believe it and it certainly didn’t sink in until I was back in the UK! It all happened so fast and was like a dream. One day I was at a conference, the next I was in a British Airways business class seat on my way to London to be reunited with my wife!’ said Hayley.

‘Being able to take the trip with Mum was the most special thing and it has meant the world to her. She’d never been on a long-haul flight before and it would have been Dad’s dream to take her on holiday like this. It has awakened so many possibilities within her. This is just the beginning of a new chapter and I know there are many adventures in store for her yet.’

Hayley and Lisa had couple had met in Australia in 2011 and moved together to the UK in 2012. They were engaged in Paris just before Hayley’s 30th birthday and married in August 2015.

Lisa was reunited with mother-in-law Debbie in London. In the background, Hayley is seen overwhelmed by the reunion.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: ‘As soon as we read Lisa’s email, we wanted to help. They’ve all had an incredibly tough time and it was in our gift to make a big difference.


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