A mum working on the frontline of the NHS has reunited with her two daughters after nine weeks apart while she battled to save lives.
Suzanne Vaughan can be seen in the heartwarming video creeping up behind her two children to surprise them.
The 43-year-old made the difficult decision to separate from Bella, nine, and Hettie, seven, while she worked in a hospital operating theatre and ICU during the covid-19 peak.
But after over two gruelling months, where she even asked to double her normal working hours, and working round the clock, she had the chance to reunite with her two daughters and finally “put my girls first.'
And in an emotionally charged scene, she can be seen surprising daughters, who had been staying with her sister.
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The adorable pair, who had no idea their mum was about to arrive, got the shock of their lives when she surprised them on Sunday.
Suzanne sneaks up behind them before the three shared a tear-jerking cuddle for the first time in months.
Mum and daughters had had to say goodbye on March 28 when they moved in with their aunt Charlotte in Peterborough, Cambs.
Suzanne, from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, said: “I brought them to my sister’s home because I wanted to keep them safe, because I work at the hospital and was exposing myself to the virus each day.
“But I also wanted to work more, and I couldn’t do more hours and keep the girls.
“It was a really difficult decision but it was a sacrifice that needed to be made.
“Leaving them was very emotional as I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw them again - I never expected it to be nine weeks.
“But so many others have made the same sacrifices because we want to help people and fight this virus.
“It was something I needed to do - I started doing this job over 20 years ago because I wanted to help people.
“I put work first for nine weeks, but I think now it was time I put my girls first.”
The operating department practitioner told her bosses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk that she wanted to nearly double her hours due to the pandemic.
Suzie, who normally works 28 hours a week, offered to work more than 50 hours a week in order to help with the national effort against the virus.
She was working 12-hour days and nights, and spent three weeks in ICU before transferring to the covid A&E department assisting in airway management.
ODPs have similar responsibilities as nurses but also play a vital part of the operating theatre team.
The single mum says she facetimed her daughters each day and they never let her wake up for a shift without a good morning text.
Suzanne said: “We Facetime each day and they will always text me good morning.
“I was tired from work and wanted to see them but I knew I couldn’t cuddle them so I stuck to it.
“There were many times I thought to myself I can’t do this anymore.
“It was difficult the first few weeks, because I’d come home from work and they wouldn’t be there.
“It was dead quiet, no one running about or screaming or laughing, it was horrible.
“I don’t know what to do without them singing and dancing.”
But after nine weeks she was overworked and felt she needed to see her two girls.
She said: "I told my boss I needed to reduce my hours back to normal, and she was incredibly understanding and supportive.
“By the end I had a countdown to when I’d be seeing my girls again and it was really the one thing keeping me going."
Suzanne says she planned to bring the girls back home about a week before the surprise, but had to keep it a secret because she didn’t want to disappoint them if anything changed.
She said: “We kept it a secret from them because I didn’t want to disappoint them in case something changed, but it was all worthwhile when I saw their reactions.
“I just didn’t want to let them go and when they cried I just felt it in my heart. It was amazing.
“I thought I can’t ever let them go again.
“I’m just glad to be with them now, I was so overwhelmed both physically and mentally, it was surreal.
“We haven’t stopped cuddling for a minute since I’ve been back.”
She added: “Being home with my girls feels like I’ve won a gold medal - it’s brilliant.
“We’ve always been close, but this has made us so much closer.”
She says her little girl Hettie kept asking if she could “go home to mummy” and even said she would not cuddle if it wasn’t safe.
Little Hetty said: “I’m so happy to be back home.
“It makes me happy because I missed mummy the most. And then Lotty [the dog].”
Nine-year-old Bella added: “I think the NHS are really great people trying to save the world.
“Mummy did a brilliant job. She had to be away to save people.
“She’s my hero.”