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Bishop's Stortford artist surprises husband on his birthday with brilliant gift involving 45 family, friends and dogs

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With people spending more time at home during the coronavirus lockdown, surprising a family member on their birthday requires careful planning.

Award-winning Bishop's Stortford artist Tracey Pinnington managed to pull it off for husband Martin with the help of a few dozen family and friends – all while maintaining social distancing.

For his 45th birthday on Thursday (April 23), she surprised him with a framed collage of 39 photos featuring family members, friends and even dogs holding pieces of paper bearing single letters to form the message: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARTIN WITH LOVE FROM EVERYONE.

Tracy Pinnington's creation for husband Martin's birthday (33997790)
Tracy Pinnington's creation for husband Martin's birthday (33997790)

Coincidentally, with six of the photos featuring couples, in the end the project involved 43 people and two dogs – the Pinningtons' Airedale terrier Dexter and Tracey's eldest sister Karen's cockerpoo, Alfie – to make 45 in total, matching Martin's birthday number.

Tracey, 44, who plotted the idea two weeks before the big day, said: "I was actually surprised at just how many people were enthusiastic about taking part. I expected just a handful of our closest friends and family to join in – 45 turned out to be a happy accident."

With Tracey, a brilliant pet portrait and wildlife artist, and Martin, who works for Hertford marketing and design agency BMDA, both working from home in Ashdale, Thorley Park, the project required a degree of stealth. She was able to put the collage together in one go when Martin went food shopping to the nearby Saisnbury's.

Martin and Tracey Pinnington (33997845)
Martin and Tracey Pinnington (33997845)

The family members involved include their two children Adam, 16, and Abbie, 15, who go to Birchwood High School, the birthday boy's parents Stan and Joyce Pinnington, and Tracey's mum and dad Rosemary and Robert Stammers. Both fathers are 72 and both mothers are 71.

Also taking part were friends dating back to when Tracey and Martin first met as students on a graphic design course at Hertford Regional College.

Martin said in a Facebook post: "Wow, thank you all so much, this really does mean the world to me. You are all truly amazing. Tracey Pinnington, thank you for organising this – you have such a creative mind. I am very lucky to have such incredible friends and family."

The photo collage wasn't the only surprise: his birthday cake was a chocolate one in the form of the coronavirus!

Martin's birthday cake in the form of the coronavirus (33998152)
Martin's birthday cake in the form of the coronavirus (33998152)

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