Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Thursday, 24 December 2009

Pensioner's Christmas 'miracle'

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Christine and Ted about to board the plane for London
Christine and Ted about to board the plane for London

Ted Maxwell thought he wasn't going to see his family this Christmas - until the director of his care home worked a "miracle".

The 82-year-old, who lives in Cornfield Care Centre in Limavady, had expected to spend the holidays with his daughter in London, but bad weather meant his flight was cancelled.

Cornfield director Jervis Nutt was determined Mr Maxwell wouldn't miss out on a family Christmas, and chartered a private plane to take him to London.

Travelling with him on Christmas Eve was staff member Christine Thompson.

"Ted is 82, and he lost his wife Deirdre about five weeks ago.

"The only family he has is in London.

"They'd booked scheduled flights for him yesterday, but when he went to the airport the flight had been cancelled.

Words will not allow me to express what I feel
Ted Maxwell

"His granddaughter tried to fly over and meet him, but her flight was diverted to Dublin.

"It was just an absolute nightmare.

"He had completely given up on being with his family at Christmas."

That was until Mr Nutt intervened.

"My boss, who owns the home, phoned me on Wednesday night and said, 'Is there no way we can get Ted to London tomorrow'?

"We started contacting flying clubs, and we even tried ringing the radio station to get an announcement put out for somebody that had an aircraft we could charter.

"We got a charter in Antrim, and we're now sitting here at the airport waiting to fly him to London," she said.

'Big heart'

Christine said the gesture was typical of Mr Nutt.

"He's a very Christian man, and he always says Christianity doesn't end on a Sunday.

"He just has a very big heart, and is so good to the residents, but this was just over and above what anybody would do.

"'Magnificent', was what Ted said to me on the phone when I told him - he said he couldn't believe we were doing it for him.

"He actually got very upset even talking about it - he lost his wife five weeks ago and all he wanted was to be with his family at Christmas," she said.

Mr Maxwell said he was "overwhelmed".

"Words will not allow me to express what I feel," he said.

"Last night we thought nothing could be done at all, but today, it was like seeing a miracle at work."

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