IRELAND’S most special twins, Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, got the VIP treatment at Shannon Airport on Friday.
The Cork twins, who were conjoined at birth but survived thanks to a miraculous operation to separate them, have spent the last eight years of their lives in and out of surgery.
The courageous twins, who have already had 45 operations and are facing a lifetime of surgery, landed at Shannon and boldly took to their temporary task as operations managers.
The initiative was all part of a weekend treats in the region put together for the twins by Share A Dream founder Shay Kinsella after he met the boys and their mother Angie.
Shay said: “This has been a great two days for the boys and they deserve it. Shannon Airport came up trumps for them. We just put the ask into the airport and Niall Maloney and all of the airport staff couldn’t have been more welcoming”.
The twins started with a visit to ‘Dreamland Limerick’ – the first fully accessible, inclusive fun centre in Ireland, before checking into the 5 Star Savoy Hotel for an overnight stay.
“We’ve had a brilliant two days and today at Shannon capped it all. The airport staff couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s a busy day for the airport but they were so generous with their time and the boys loved every minute of it.
“Shannon Heritage has given us family passes to their visitor attractions at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and King John’s Castle and we are really looking forward to availing of these,” the boys’ mother Angie said.
On Friday the boys got a tour of an Aer Lingus plane and a special visit to the cockpit where they met Aer Lingus Captain Gerry Guthrie.
The boys visited to the fire station where they met with Fire & Police staff and got to become honorary firemen.
Next stop was an overview of the airport’s security screening and operations facilities before being given a quick instruction on life of a pilot.
The VIP treatment continued when the twins and their family visited the Airport’s Presidential Suite where they signed the visitor’s book and wrote their names alongside famous dignitaries who have visited the airport over the years.
“We’ve had VIPs coming through Shannon for decades, among them some of the most famous people in the world but I’m not sure we’ve met any as special as these two boys.
“Airports are magical places for youngsters but the boys are magical in their own right and we were absolutely delighted to have them. This was about a treat for them but it was a treat for us also. They’re an inspiration and Shannon Airport is now officially a big fan of theirs. We’ll be keeping up to date with their progress and wishing them well every inch of the way. As our chosen staff charity for 2018 we were delighted to support the Share a Dream Foundation in making the boys’ wishes come true,” Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney added.