Globetrotting Harry (89) travels 10,000 miles to surprise Burnley bride Leanne on her big day

Harry Hodgson (89) travelled over 10,000 miles to surprise his great niece Leanne Bradshaw at her wedding to fiance Greg Wharf.
Harry Hodgson (89) travelled over 10,000 miles to surprise his great niece Leanne Bradshaw at her wedding to fiance Greg Wharf.

Globetrotter Harry Hodgson travelled 10,000 miles at the age of 89 to surprise his great niece on her wedding day.

Harry left bride Leanne Wharf speechless when he greeted her at her wedding reception to her fiance Greg Wharf in The Lounge at Crow Wood Leisure in Burnley.

Harry with Leanne, her two children, Amber and Kobi and her mum Sue McKay.

Harry with Leanne, her two children, Amber and Kobi and her mum Sue McKay.

Leanne's mum, Sue McKay, who only found out herself a couple of hours before that Harry had landed in the UK to surprise the bride, said: "We were ready to watch Leanne's face when Harry walked in and it was a picture.

"She was over the moon and so emotional when he walked in because she had no idea he was going to be there.

"None of us did until a couple of hours before the reception so it was hard to keep it a secret from Leanne."

A grandfather of two with one great grandchild, Harry had spent a couple of days in St Anne's with his brother Roy, who made the journey from his home in London, before he contacted Sue to let her know he would be at the wedding reception.

Sue said: "He threw us off the scent because we can usually track him through a phone app but he had gone off the radar.

"He told us that he was having problems with his phone."

Although he emigrated from Burnley to Adelaide 60 years ago Harry has kept close ties with his family and regularly makes surprise appearances at gatherings and special occasions, thinking nothing of hopping on a plane to see his loved ones.

Leanne and Greg, who have recently launched their own Burnley based theatre school called Act One Beginners, tied the knot in Cyprus surrounded by 60 family and friends. And Leanne was thrilled when Harry contacted her through facetime on the morning of the wedding to wish them luck.

Sue said: "We knew that he wasn't able to make it to Cyprus but we never expected he would still turn up in England for the wedding party we had planned here."

And 34-year-old Leanne, who is a professional singer, got the chance to introduce her uncle to her own little ones Kobi (four) and eight-month-old Autumn.

Sue wasn't born when Harry emigrated and she met him properly in 1992 when he came home to see her dad Jack, who was his brother. Jack then went back to Australia for a long holiday and the duo had a ball together.

Harry then made a surprise visit to the UK for Jack's 80th in 2007. When Jack died three years later, Harry returned for his funeral.

The family then welcomed Harry home for Sue's 50th birthday celebrations in 2012 and two years later for her wedding to Alec when he was joined by his daughter, Jo.

Last year the couple took a cruise around Australia, which took in Adelaide, and they arranged to meet Harry.

A former merchant seaman, Harry warned them he would never set foot on a ship again so they were stunned when they went back on board only to be greeted by his smiling face and all his luggage!

Sue said: "He had arranged his bags to be dropped off by the port authorities and he joined us for the rest of the cruise.

"Harry is such a wonderful character, we all love him so much. He is full of fun, life and amazing stories of his time in the merchant navy."