The Christmas celebrations began with a dream trip to Lapland for three Lincolnshire youngsters who have life-threatening illnesses.
Charlie Tatchell, 14, and 16-year-olds Chloe Maguire and Jack Barnfieldflew out with their families to meet Santa as part of a trip for 32 youngsters organised by the When You Wish Upon A Star charity.
They enjoyed rides in sleighs pulled by husky dogs and reindeer, sledging and other activities to get the festive season into full swing and to take their minds off the usual schedule of hospital appointments at home.
Chloe, who has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and cancer of the partolid gland, said: “It was really exciting.
“I love flying and travelling to new places, so I was very grateful when the When You Wish Upon A Star charity said I could go on the trip.
“I enjoyed seeing the reindeer, visiting Santa and being able to explore somewhere new.”
After landing in Lapland, the youngsters were taken to a magical, snow-covered forest, where they enjoyed a fireworks display.
They were even joined by stars of the TV soap ‘Emmerdale’, Ash Palmisciano, Jonny McPherson and Natalie Robb, who carry out work for When You Wish Upon A Star.
The charity spent £90,000 to charter a private flight to Lapland, using generous donations that had been collected throughout the year.
Karen Martt, general manager at the charity, said: “We always look forward to our annual Lapland visit. It’s such a special Christmas present to give to those families who need it the most.
“The trip allows children with life-threatening illnesses to forget about the gruelling rigmarole oftreatments and to 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.
“We thank everyone who donated this year. We could not have done it without them.”
When You Wish Upon A Star is already preparing for more fundraising during its 30th anniversary in 2020, and is seeking volunteers to support its efforts.