Thursday, 18 December 2008
Scottish children jet off for dream day in Lapland
By: Neil Richardson
COURAGEOUS children from all over Scotland left Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire on board the ‘Lapland Express’ at the crack of dawn yesterday morning.
[Pictured: Glasgow Prestwick Airport’s Carrie Paterson with the Broadley family from Falkirk - dad Gordon (a service engineer), mum Norma (a receptionist) with children Lewis, eleven and Megan, five. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]
Every year the charity When You Wish Upon A Star take hundreds of brave youngsters who suffer from life-threatening illnesses to meet the real Santa Claus.
This is the third year they have operated a flight out of Prestwick, following successful trips in 2006 and 2007.
An aircraft billed as the ‘Lapland Express’, carrying 57 children and their family members, took off at around 7.30am.
[Pictured: Jeanne Forrest from Bearsden, four-year-old son Thomas and the airport’s Julie McGann.]
The passengers included Jeanne Forest and her four-year-old son Thomas from Bearsden in Glasgow and the Petrie family from the city’s south side – dad Andrew, mum Helen, six-year-old Hannah and nine-year-old Daniel.
[Pictured: Heather Lairs from Mossend in Lanarkshire with five-year-old son James and Carrie Paterson.]
James Lairs, five, and mum Heather travelled from Mossend in Lanarkshire while others came from further afield such as Dave Johnstone and daughter Leah from St Andrew’s and the Broadley family from Falkirk – dad Gordon, mum Norma, eleven-year-old Lewis and five-year-old Megan.
Lapland has no shortage of magical pursuits to keep the visitors occupied – skidoos, snowmobiles, quad bikes, sledges, husky rides, Rudolph and of course the main attraction – Santa Claus.
For the youngsters and their families the trip is an opportunity to forget about the misery of hospital rooms and treatment for a short time. Anticipation was building from the moment they began arriving at 4am to check in.
Airport staff dressed up as elves to welcome them and the terminal was buzzing with excitement as it filled up with children sporting lots of layers and warm hats to protect them from the freezing Lapland temperatures.
The group gathered in the airport’s Aviator Suite, where the youngsters who had already checked in ate sweets, drank juice and watched cartoons.
As the group prepared to make their way to the aircraft, airport employees presented the charity’s Scottish fundraising manager Margaret Rowarth with a cheque for £1,463 – the proceeds of a staff raffle.
In a show of support for the charity, the airport waived the landing, handling and parking charges normally payable by airline customers, while the families who travelled on the flight were given free car parking facilities.
Glasgow Prestwick Chief Executive Airport Mark Rodwell commented: “The annual trip to Lapland is a fantastic day out for these children and their families after all that they have been through.
“It is very humbling to see the sheer joy on their faces that this day brings, and the airport is very proud that we are able to contribute towards making it happen.”
He added: “The charity behind this venture is a very worthwhile cause which relies almost exclusively on donations to carry out their work. They need as much financial support as possible to raise the £70,000 annual cost of making the trip happen.”
Glasgow Prestwick’s newsagent WH Smith contributed to the goodie bags which were handed out when the group returned in the evening.
They contained a group photograph of everyone on the flight which was taken before they left in the morning.
In order for When You Wish Upon A Star to continue granting the wishes of sick children, they rely solely on fundraising and donations from generous individuals. For the parents of a very poorly child, the need to make their wish come true is of the utmost importance. To make a donation visit www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk
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