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Every day, the airline KLM brings people together, no matter how far or how long they have been apart. That’s why, as part of a long-running Polymedia campaign for the Dutch airline, a family reunion competition was the perfect way to spread that heartwarming message.

The competition was the culmination of a year-long Polymedia PR strategy project that used physical stunts, radio, regional press and social media in an integrated campaign to highlight KLM’s new routes from Southampton Airport.

In this phase, we teamed up with the Southern Daily Echo to appeal for readers’ stories that underlined why they deserved to be chosen for an all-expenses-paid flight for their loved one to Southampton Airport.

The prize was the perfect 80th birthday present for the winner, Doreen Smith, who was treated to a family reunion that brought her together with her three daughters for the first time in years.

The emotional homecoming was a rare chance for Doreen and daughters Sue, Sally and Jane to all be together – something that has hardly ever happened since Jane moved to Canada 28 years ago.

Doreen’s daughter Sally Ketteringham, who lives just a few doors away from Doreen in Shirley, explained that the three sisters were close and spoke weekly via Skype, but rarely had the chance to meet as a family.

The last time the “girls” were all together was a very brief visit by Jane for a family wedding three years ago. The previous visit was four years before that for a sad occasion – the funeral of their father, Tony.

Sally, along with husband Mark, daughter Emma, 24 and son Stephen, 21, were with Doreen at the airport on the eve of Doreen’s birthday (Saturday, July 1) to await flight KL915 from Amsterdam Schiphol – the final leg of Jane and her family’s KLM journey from Toronto.

Joining them was Sue with her husband James and daughter Hannah, 27. Their son Chris, 24, was waiting at home.

Jane and son Adam, 19, were greeted with hugs and kisses from the family as they walked through arrivals at Southampton.

They then went back to Doreen’s home for a catch-up ahead of a weekend of celebrations, including a barn dance and party in her honour.

Sally said: “I saw the competition in the Echo and thought I’d give it a go but I never thought we would win. We see the family on Skype and Facetime all the time but it’s not the same as being there all together. Mum hasn’t felt able to make the trip to Canada and often wondered out loud when she would see Jane again.

“We had an amazing weekend and mum said so many times how lovely it was to have all her family together at last, and how wonderful the team at KLM have been. I can’t tell you how much this has meant to us. We have been overwhelmed with kindness and have such wonderful memories to treasure forever.”