Able Seaman Rhys Zanetti got a big surprise for his 18th birthday on HMS Prince of Wales when his family snuck on board to present him with a birthday cake...

The giant aircraft carrier is alongside in Liverpool as part of a week-long visit to her affiliated city – and Rhys’ family spotted an opportunity to make his birthday unforgettable. As thousands of members of the public packed the ship’s hangar for a glimpse inside the new carrier this weekend, Rhys’ mum, dad, stepdad, and grandfather secretly joined them.

Rhys, a Seaman Specialist, was distracted showing members of the public seamanship skills while his family crept across the hangar carrying balloons and a birthday cake. And when he finally spotted them, the hangar erupted into song as everyone wished him a happy birthday.

Rhys, from Yorkshire, said: “It was a complete shock, I was not expecting it at all. I can’t believe they managed to get the whole hangar singing happy birthday. I’ve really enjoyed the ship’s visit to Liverpool so far and it was great to see my family here.”

Rhys’ mum Natalie Holdsworth said: “The whole time we were waiting to get on board I was just thinking ‘he’s going to kill me!’ It was so nice that everyone helped us make this happen to surprise him. I haven’t seen him in about a month and seeing him here on his ship is such a proud moment for us as his family.”