ON December 18 I travelled with 120 young terminally ill, long term ill and deserving children, parents, doctors, nurses and helpers which included our very own Gerry Kelly to Lapland.
The trip started with a welcome at the airport by carol singers, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Jack and Fiona who work hard gathering all the donations and organising this trip of a lifetime to see Santa.
I want to share my story as I work with a lot of fantastic charities who work relentlessly to raise money for great causes but to actually go on this trip and help with the children and meet some of the most wonderful little characters that really do enjoy everything that life gives them.
The trip is made possible by the genourosity of people everywhere and especially the customers of Sainsburys in Carrickfergus, Sprucefield and Forestside who have partnered with the Northern Ireland Children’s Lapland Trust for a year and also our Coleraine store which has helped with fundraising.
I got to know some of the children by helping the parents and then by face painting on the plane. I was astonished by the bravery of these children.
When in Lapland we got dressed in warm gear and made our way outside were the children got to go on the husky rides, reindeers, sleighs and snow mobiles.
The children then went inside to get their dinner and started their walk of Santa’s and the Elves’ homes.
They decorated the Christmas tree and made their own gingerbread man with Mrs Claus and we all got to go to Elf school before we went to see the big man in red.
The elves were there to help the children in wheelchairs in to see Santa and to guide everyone in. When I was in Santa’s room I saw the most amazing smiles from children and none showed the pain and agony that they go through on a daily basis.
They really are heroes in my eyes.
The whole time in Lapland was astonishing with the children and even on the way home when the adults started to get a little tired the youngsters were still estatic about Lapland, singing happily on the plane.
My journey was made very special when I met four-year-old Saul from Portrush who is a real gem and who made me smile and laugh.
It made me realise that all the fundraising we do in Sainsburys and everyone else is really worth it.
Saul was one of 120 children on this trip and everyone has a story of why they were chosen. I for one was truly honoured to help and I want to thank everyone who donated to NICLT and made this possible and a big thank you to Saul and all the children for letting me share their time in Lapland...and those special little smiles.