Christmas wish came true

A MAGICAL day filled with joy and wonder made Christmas wishes come true for 86 seriously ill children and their families.

Children’s charity When You Wish Upon A Star flew the excited youngsters, including two from Alford, to meet Father Christmas and his reindeer in Lapland last Tuesday.

Luke Armstrong who has a congenital heart disorder and spina bifida sufferer Natasha Lovely, were both scheduled to attend last year but ill health held them back.

This time six-year-old Luke’s mother, Karen, was taking no chances.

She said: “I didn’t want to tempt fate this time so I didn’t tell him where we were going until we arrived at the airport. When he saw the tickets, his face sparkled with joy, he filled up with tears and started screaming with excitement.”

After a fun filled flight complete with carol singing and presents the merry group touched down at Rovaniemi Airport in the winter wonderland of Lapland.

A reindeer powered sleigh ride and husky led sledges escorted the awe-struck young visitors through the Enchanted Forest where they enjoyed snow mobile rides and a barbecue before warming themselves beside the fire in a cosy teepee tent.

A surprise fireworks display heralded the end of their stay in the Enchanted Forest and the next stage of their Lapland Adventure - to meet Father Christmas himself.

The big jolly chap and his magical reindeer made a grand entrance to the Christmas meal and party to give each of the children a special gift.

All too soon it was time for home but not before another medley of Christmas carols on the plane journey home and a VIP reception at Humberside Airport where they were greeted with yet more presents to round off a once in a lifetime experience.

Nine-year-old Natasha’s mother Deborah Scayman said: “It was brilliant - she loved every minute of it.”

The trip, which costs more than £80,000, is only made possible through kind donations and all-year-round fund raising by the dedicated When You Wish Upon A Star team, which has been tougher than ever in the current financial climate.

Fund raiser Joanne Heywood said: “There’s no doubt about it, this has been the most difficult year on record, we’ve had to put hours and hours of fund raising for this trip to go ahead.”

However, the immeasurable value of providing such treasured memories for children, some of whom will not live to see another Christmas, far outweighs the difficulties faced.

Joanne continued: “It was a pure delight to be with these children and their families on such a perfect day.

“We had some really poorly children on the trip and for some of them it will be their last Christmas but they were all able to forget about their illnesses for just one day.

“The parents were all so emotional and there was such a warm atmosphere - it really restores your faith in human kind.”

The time and effort Joanne and her mother Pat Wright dedicate to helping the children is well appreciated among the parents.

Karen said: “I want to say a huge thank you to Pat and Joanne, they do an absolutely tremendous job to raise all the money so all the children can experience a truly magical day without any stress or worry.”