A surprise afternoon tea was delivered in style to treat three couples who had to postpone wedding anniversary celebrations at a historic Cork hotel due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Dressed in top hat and tails, guest relations manager and concierge with the Metropole Hotel John Coleman cancelled plans for his day off to deliver Prosecco, gourmet sandwiches, fresh cakes and scones to the couples.
The idea was the brainchild of Janice Casey, events sales manager at the Metropole who made the deliveries with John on what was her own wedding anniversary yesterday.
"It was like something you'd see at the Waldorf," said Michael Mulcahy who had to postpone his 40th wedding anniversary celebrations with his wife Ann at the hotel due to the pandemic.
The couple married at the Metropole 40 years ago when Ann was 17 and Michael was 19. They planned to renew their vows and have a party with family and friends at the hotel this summer but they have put those plans on hold until the restrictions lift.
"Janice told me last night that she wanted to organise a surprise treat for Ann to make up for the disappointment of having to postpone the anniversary celebrations. So I knew about it but even I was surprised when I saw John coming up in top hat and tails," Mr Mulcahy said.
"It's great to see the old, traditional hotels coming back, they create a special atmosphere in the city and I can't praise Janice enough.
We've been looking back over the old wedding photos today. Ann got quite emotional. She's been an amazing wife, mother and grandmother. She'd like to have had her three grandchildren here today but having to cancel a party is a small thing in the grand scheme of things.
Mr Coleman said that the deliveries had created a sense of community throughout the lockdown.
"The longer lockdown goes on the more important it is to give everybody a lift," the concierge said. "We were looking for ways to show little acts of kindness. I'm a firm believer in promoting positivity and as soon as Janice asked me to do this I jumped at the opportunity.
"To see people's faces today was lovely, they were so surprised.
"And it gave a great sense of community. The overwhelming feeling was of gratitude."
Ms Casey said that dreaming up ways to treat people during lockdown had been very worthwhile. And arriving at people's doors -socially distanced but bearing gifts - gave people a lift at a time when they had seen few other people in months.
"There were tears, people were speechless," Ms Casey said. "It had a great effect on the neighbours too. And one woman said it was a shame we couldn't touch with social distancing because she wanted to run away with John!"
The Metropole is due to reopen on July 20, with function rooms and restaurants already reorganised to facilitate social distancing.
"Everyone at the hotel is so excited to open again and to open safely," Ms Casey said.