A Fife soldier ensured his family’s wish to see him home for Christmas came true at the weekend with a little help from Santa Claus.
Corporal Steven Mitchell, from Lochore, surprised his and his partner Stacey Carson’s children at Santa’s Grotto in Kirkcaldy’s Mercat Shopping Centre on Saturday by returning back to Scotland from serving a tour in Afghanistan.
Calvin, 10, Liam, 8, and Jack, 6, were understandably stunned when Steven appeared in the flesh, and it means the family can now look forward to spending Christmas together in Cardenden.
“It’s good to be back home for Christmas and New Year,” he said.
“When I first heard about this about two weeks ago I was all up for it.
“When you are away for Christmas it’s an absolute nightmare and you just want to be home with your friends and family.
“A couple of the boys in Afghanistan actually gave up their Christmas and New Year for a few of the other boys who have got younger kids, so I’ve got to give a big shout out to them.”
Stacey added: “The boys knew he was coming home before Christmas we’d said Santa was bringing him home early but they didn’t know exactly when.
“They were obviously missing their dad so much and they kept on asking when he was coming home, so I said to them: ‘Why don’t we go and see Santa on Saturday and ask him then?’
“I think I was more excited about this than actual Christmas Day!”
Steven, who serves with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) attached to 2 SCOTS at Penicuik, left home at the beginning of August on an eight-month operational tour in Afghanistan and was not officially due home until April.
However, he has been allowed home for two weeks’ rest and relaxation and was in on the elaborate surprise, arriving back in Scotland in the early hours of Saturday.
“I’ve been missing somebody to moan at!” Stacey joked. “But we’re just glad he’s home for Christmas and can’t wait to spend some time together.”
Stephen Roberts, manager of the Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy, said he was only too happy to get involved in the incredible reunion.
“When Stacey contacted us to see if we could help her partner surprise their children on his return from Afghanistan we were delighted to help,” he said.
“We arranged to sneak Steven into the grotto and let Santa work his magic, with a little help from Stacey, to surprise the children.”