IT really was a case of “surprise, surprise” as a mother was reunited with her son after more than a year apart.

Joan Lacey, 88, has only been a resident at Corner Lodge since April but already one of her wishes has come true from the Jaywick care home’s “wishing tree”.

Residents write down their wishes and hang them on the tree in the hope that they will come true.

Joan’s son, Stephen, has been working in Malawi, Africa, for the past year teaching nursing.

He regularly keeps in touch with his mother over the phone, but hadn’t seen her face-to-face in more than a year.

When Joan hung her wish of her being able to see her son on the tree, activities organiser Debbie Collins didn’t realise how quickly it would come true.

She said: “It was an extraordinary coincidence.

“I had done the wish tree with the residents in the morning and later that afternoon I was speaking to her husband Morris.

“I said ‘Look at what she’s wished for’ and he said ‘He’s coming here next Friday.’ “And that was that, he came and saw her on the Sunday, after getting over the jetlag!

“It was was a complete fluke but what an ideal fluke. Morris said don’t tell her, and I said I definitely wasn’t going to be telling her.

“I was there when they saw each other and I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough.

“Talk about having tears in your eyes. It’s very heartwarming, I love my wishing tree and I love what it’s achieving.”

Speaking about being reunited with her son, Joan said: “I was over the moon , I only get to see him occasionally when we talk through the phone.”

“We went out for a nice meal and it was very exciting.”