A YOUNG mother who let balloons from her little girl’s birthday fly away got the surprise of her life when she received a congratulatory message – all the way from Belgium.

Becky Prior, of Standean Close in Brighton, wanted to do something special to mark daughter Lily’s first year.

So she decided to send balloons on a journey to see where they ended up.

But she did not think they would travel far.

She said: “When I got the message I didn’t recognise the number at all and thought it was just spam. Even my mum thought it was a prank.

“But then I typed in the number on Google and it said it was from that same area in Belgium. Then they sent photos of the balloon.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

A week earlier Becky, 24 and her scaffolder partner Lewis Stoner, 27, had thrown a first birthday party for Lily and accumulated a number of helium balloons.

As their little girl loved them so much, they kept them around for a few days then decided to do something with them.

Before letting two silver star-shaped ones loose in the wind on Saturday morning, Becky sellotaped a note to them asking the recipients to get in contact.

The note read: “These are our daughter’s birthday balloons from her first birthday. We would love to know where they have ended up.”

The couple then gave a contact number.

The message from Belgium arrived the following morning, at 10.30am, from a family in Kruishoutem, East Flanders, who wished Lily a late happy birthday.

Becky said: “The woman I was speaking to was the eldest daughter of three girls – I never found out their names – and they thought the balloon might have been an early Valentine’s present.

“I think they were just as surprised as we were.”

Assuming the balloon travelled in a reasonably straight line from Brighton with eastern winds, it would have covered a distance of about 180 miles in about 26 hours.

Becky said: “With the weather being the way it was, I thought it would have been too intense or at the very least the note would have smudged or been destroyed by the rain.

“It was one thing for it to cross the English Channel and end up in Belgium, but for it to show up in basically the same state as we let it go is amazing.”

The other balloon, which was let go at the same time, has not yet been found.

For more images and a video, visit theargus.co.uk.