Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Wife of Sky News reporter Blevins beats fear of flying with 4,500 mile trip to surprise daughter in US


The family
The family
The moment Sarah Blevins and mum, Ruth, met in Miami
Ruth with her husband, the Sky News journalist, David Blevins
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A mother has defied her fear of flying to make an emotional 4,500 mile trip to surprise her daughter.

Sarah Blevins (21) got the shock of her life when her mum, Ruth, tapped her on the shoulder at Miami airport as she arrived for an unexpected visit yesterday.

The moment was captured on video and after her father, Sky News journalist David Blevins, posted it to Twitter yesterday, the heartwarming reunion, some nine hours and 4,500 miles away, has now been viewed well over 100,000 times online.

Speaking from Miami yesterday, Ruth (46) told the Belfast Telegraph: "I can't believe I'm actually here.

"We're all having a bit of a laugh that the video has been seen by so many people.

"Maybe people just wanted a bit of good news for a change."

Getting on to an airplane has been a lifelong struggle for the Portadown woman, but it seems the love for a daughter was the key to overcoming her fears.

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"This was going to be the first time as a family we haven't been together at Christmas," explained Ruth. "That made up my mind that I wanted to do something about it."

Dancer and dance teacher, Sarah, has been living in the USA for the last six months.

"Thanks to her boyfriend, Josh, she thought she was there to pick up a friend," said Ruth. "I hid behind a pillar and surprised her. We both just burst into tears.

"We hadn't even told our two boys I was going for fear someone would spill the beans."

It was the first time in Ruth's life that she has flown alone.

Her travel had always been limited to the odd short-haul flight, and always with someone there to calm her.

"We booked the flight a few weeks ago and even a week ago, I wasn't sure if I could do it," she added.

"I've always suffered from anxiety and for nine years, I refused to get on a plane at all.

"When the kids were younger, David said he'd love to take them to Disneyland Paris. I made them get the ferry to Holyhead, then to Calais and drive the rest of the way.

"It's the changes in sounds, the thought of not being in control. I could never do it.

"My mother has refused to fly for 20 years, but I made up my mind that I don't want to be like that. You don't really want to be stuck in Northern Ireland all your life."

However, the chance to surprise her daughter helped her overcome that fear.

She added: "Taking the plunge and visiting Sarah in Miami just before Christmas was the perfect opportunity for me to make that breakthrough.

"I have headphones of David's to listen to music and I watched The Lion King during the flight, so that helped.

"There was a bit of a wobble on the way down again, but I just kept thinking, 'I'm going to see Sarah', and that helped get me through."

Back at home, David, who joined Sky News in 1996 as a reporter, and was appointed as Ireland correspondent in 2001, admitted that he had a sleepless night as Ruth made her lone-woman trip across the Atlantic.

"I was checking online every hour of so to see where she'd made it to, wondering how she was coping," he said.

"For as long as I've known Ruth, since she was in her late teens, she's had this fear. Occasionally, with a bit of help, she's beaten it, but it's always been there. She's tried medication, maybe a wee glass of wine, but nothing really worked.

"We spent a lot of our family holidays at home rather than put Ruth through flying.

"It was quite a first trip on her own and I was delighted to hear she'd made it safely."

He added: "I'm amazed at the positive response the video clip has received. Maybe people just needed a bit of good, wholesome family joy in their lives.

"I guess it says something about the love between a mother and a daughter that Ruth was able to beat her fears and make the trip on her own."

While she enjoys the sunshine of Miami, Ruth says she is not thinking about making the trip home just yet.

"I convinced myself I could do whatever it took to get here for Sarah," said Ruth. "I'm sure I'll get home to the rest of the family next week."

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