Abu Dhabi-based Alison Armstrong and her daughter Isla, who will both celebrate their 'real' leap year birthdays tomorrow. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Little Isla will be turning one leap year in Abu Dhabi tomorrow. And, it will be a 1-in-2.1-million celebration, because her mother, Alison Armstrong, who also happens to be a leapling, will be marking her ninth leap year birthday along with her.

Now, if that is leaving you a bit flummoxed, here’s putting it differently. Alison, a Scottish teacher who turned 32 on February 29, 2020, the last leap year, gave birth to Isla on the same day. And according to global statistics, the odds of a parent born on a Leap Day also having a child on a Leap Day is one in 2.1 million.

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Speaking to Gulf News ahead of the momentous occasion, Isla’s father Colin Armstrong, a journalist, said, “I think it’s wonderful to have a unique celebration, something to look forward to every four years. It’s very special.”

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Colin Armstrong, Alison and Isla as a newborn. The little girl was born in Abu Dhabi on February 29, 2020 while her mother turned 32 on the same day. Image Credit: Supplied

He said 2038 will be an extra special year. “2038 is again a leap year. Isla will turn 18 and Ali 50 on the same day. Two significant birthdays for different reasons. I look forward to it, even if my bank balance won’t,” he laughed.

So what plans for tomorrow?

Colin said, “Isla will be celebrating her first ‘real’ birthday with a party in a local park with her friends. She chose a unicorn theme so there will be decorations to match and of course, plenty of cake and activities for the kids.”

Isla will be celebrating her first ‘real’ birthday with a party in a local park with her friends. Image Credit: Supplied

He said for the first time, his wife too can celebrate her birthday together with their wonderful daughter. “The pair have an incredibly close bond and sharing a rare birthday just makes their relationship all the more special. We’re looking forward to a special day where both of the most important ladies in my life get their time to feel special, be appreciated and celebrated for being who they are.”

He said for the last three years, Isla has been celebrating her birthday on February 28, while Alison usually marks her big day on March 1. “But this year, thankfully, we don’t need to be flexible and can have a proper celebration together.”

Alison and Isla share a very special bond, says Colin Armstrong. Image Credit: Supplied

Colin said the last double celebration for the family was at the NMC Royal Hospital when Isla was born. He and Alison, who were high school sweethearts, had gotten married four years earlier and it were delighted when Alison got pregnant in 2019. “Isla was not due before March 12 but she arrived on February 29, 2020, weighing a health 2.67kg, Colin said.

Interestingly, the doctor who delivered her - Dr Feroza Dawood – also delivered Arthur, Isla’s little brother, who arrived in September 2022.

Girl of many interests

“Isla is a very caring and considerate older sibling. She’s already in FS1 at school in Abu Dhabi and has a passion for horse riding, reading, art, cooking and ballet,” he noted.

Asked if the family faces any Leap Day challenges when it comes to paperwork, he said, “We have never faced any issues with paperwork or online, it’s always been seamless, from getting a UK passport when Isla was four months old at the height of the pandemic, all the way through to enrolling in school and even travelling the world.”

Little Isla in her one leap year has travelled to Greece, Scotland and Tanzania. Image Credit: Supplied

He said Isla in her short and eventful life has already visited Greece, Scotland and Tanzania, without issue. “In fact, it’s always amusing to the family when immigration officers check Ali’s passport and see the birth date, remarking how it’s rare, then open my daughter’s passport to discover the same. We’ve had a few laughs at immigration at airports across the world,” he shared.

Did you know?

Leap Day – February 29 – occurs once every four years when an extra day is added to February to account for the solar revolution. This is because the sun actually takes 356.2422 days for a full revolution. So every four years, this 0.2422 days makes a full day.

The odds of a parent born on a Leap Day having a child on a Leap Day are one in 2.1 million