Seriously ill children from Nottinghamshire visit Lapland to meet Santa

Seven children from Nottinghamshire were sent on a special trip to Lapland thanks to a charity.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 10:55 am

When You Wish Upon A Star (WYWUAS) sent a total of 32 children, including seven from Nottinghamshire, with life-threatening illnesses on a trip to Lapland to meet Santa Claus this Christmas.

Four-year-old Elizabeth Heanaghan and Abigail Sharpe, Olivia Wood, Nicholas Turnbull and Sofia Gardella, all aged five as well as six-year-olds Jake Barksby and Rosie Bird, were among the children who flew to Lapland from East Midlands Airport with their families.

WYWUAS, a charity founded in Nottingham by Barbara White in 1990, spent £90,000 to charter a private flight, using generous donations that had been collected throughout the year.

All of the families and WYWUAS team together in Lapland.

On the way to Lapland, Olivia’s mother, Aimee Wood said: “We were really humbled when WYWUAS asked us to come on the trip and have been so overwhelmed by everything they have done for us.

“When Olivia was diagnosed with having ‘half a heart’ (double outlet right ventricle with complete atrioventricular septal defect) we began to focus on making the most of each day and creating memories as a family. This trip will give us the opportunity to experience something that I know the children will remember forever so we are incredibly grateful.”

After landing the children were taken ‘to a magical forest to explore the snow-covered surroundings and enjoy a firework display’.

Husky sleigh rides, reindeer rides, sledging and getting the children into the full swing of the festive season were all on the to-do list of the trip, which took place on the weekend of December 7.

The Wood family, Aimee, Olivia 5, Arthur 8 and Paul, at East Midlands Airport.

Karen Martt, general manager at WYWUAS, said: ‘We always look forward to our annual Lapland visit - it’s such a special Christmas present to give to those families that need it the most.

“The trip allows children with life-threatening illnesses to forget about the gruelling rigmarole of treatments and soak up the magic of Christmas with Santa himself. We love being able to create a safe space for children to relax and make memories that last forever, without worrying about the stresses of life at home.”

After a chance to warm up from their snowy adventures, the children met with Santa Claus, where they all received an early gift.

Karen added: “We’re proud to have been able to host another successful trip to Lapland and want to thank each and every person who donated to WYWUAS this year – we could not have done it without them.

Claire Gardella and five year old Sofia

“All of the donations go towards granting the wishes of special children and we hope 2020 is another successful year of fundraising and turning dreams into a reality.”

It costs WYWUAP £900 to send each child and their guardian to Lapland, so generous donations are ‘essential’ to ensure the organisation can continue this magical Christmas tradition.

The charity is already preparing for another year of fundraising for its 30th anniversary in 2020 and is seeking volunteers to support its efforts of providing respite for families in need.

To take part visit whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk, contact WYWUAS at [email protected] or call 0115 9761720.